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Group Calls for Action Following Vandalism of Local Muslims' Car

A group of nine young men—at least one of whom is from Redmond—was targeted with racist graffiti on a trip to Lake Chelan over the Labor Day weekend.

What started as a fun trip to Lake Chelan over the recent Labor Day weekend turned into .

The group of young men, all of whom are Muslim college students and at least one of whom lives in Redmond, used two cars to drive to the lake—one a privately owned Prius and the other a BMW sedan rented through the Zipcar car-sharing service.

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When the friends returned to their vehicles after two hours on the lake in rented jet skis, they found one side of the BMW was extensively scratched with a key. Vandals had also written the racist phrases "Sand N**gers" and "Doon Goons" (sic) in permanent marker on the vehicle, along with a "crudely drawn penis and a pair of breasts," Brown said.

"Although my friend who had rented the car and the rest of us were upset, I felt like none of us were all that surprised," said Brown, citing other recent anti-Muslim crimes elsewhere in the country. (Click on video above to see Brown's full account of the incident.)

Brown, who lives in Bellevue and is to begin studying for a degree in computer science this fall at UW-Bothell, was the only one of the group comfortable enough to speak about the incident during a Friday morning news conference at the Seattle offices of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil liberties organization.

"I feel like I wanted to do this in order, one, to please God by standing up for justice, and, two, to stand up on behalf of Muslims everywhere who are fearful of disclosing their identity," he said.

The young man who rented the BMW is still working with Zipcar to determine how much he will have to pay for the damage, Brown said, adding that his friend expects to pay a minimum of $750 based on the rental company's policies.

CAIR representatives said the Chelan incident is just the latest in a series of discriminatory acts directed at local Muslims.

In May, a Bellevue woman wearing a headscarf at Snoqualmie Falls was approached by an unknown man who made a comment about her head covering and proceeded to try to grab her "with his full body, as though he was trying to hug her," according to a letter CAIR sent to the Snoqualmie Police Department. The man fled when the woman ran toward her husband, according to CAIR.

Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of CAIR's Washington chapter, said anti-Muslim "hate speech" by political and religious leaders has led to ongoing acts of violence toward Muslim Americans across the country.

CAIR is calling for the FBI to investigate the Chelan incident as a hate crime and also asking for local leaders to denounce the act in public so as to send a message that Washington state does not tolerate such behavior.

"It's horrifying that someone would have to go through this," Bukhari said. "This is taking us backwards—it's not how America works."

Bukhari specifically applauded in which a threatening note was left on a Muslim woman's car. Marchione set a good example for how local leaders should respond to other attacks, Bukhari said.

Brown, meanwhile, said he is upset over what happened in Chelan but does not live in fear of future attacks.

"I'd go (back) to Lake Chelan tomorrow," he said. "I'm not going to be intimidated by something like this."

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What do you think local leaders can or should do to combat acts of violence or vandalism directed toward Muslims? Let us know in the comments section.

Lisa Whytock September 09, 2012 at 01:33 PM
Amazing how if this is on the other foot...what are the cops doing when the Muslims are openly throwing bottles and rotten eggs at Christians in an eastern town. They ( the Muslims) can pretend to be victims but some might get just a tad pissed with the constant barrage of their hate towards Christians. I have read their comments on "Why I am not a Muslim" which can be seen on Facebook.
RM September 09, 2012 at 05:09 PM
I haven't heard of any incident where Muslims are throwing eggs and bottles at Christians. I would think it would be national news and most certainly the police would be involved.
Jeanne Gustafson September 09, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Hi Lisa, I think I have found the incident you are describing above. Most likely you have seen a 22-minute edited YouTube video by protestors at an Arab Cultural Festival in Dearborn, Mich. Here's some info you may not have seen on the video, however: A group of Christian evangelists, called the Bible Believers, protested at the first day of the festival with signs that read "Prophet Muhammad is molester and false prophet," while holding a pig's head as they made their way down Warren Ave, into the center of the festival. ... What many don't know however is that there are two videos that were uploaded by the group that depict the incident: The 22-minute video that has gone viral, and a much longer raw footage video, which is almost 70 minutes in length. (from the Arab American News: http://www.arabamericannews.com/news/index.php?mod=article&cat=Community&article=5781) I think the two incidents cannot be equated--a hostile demonstration in a huge crowd possibly inciting, and resulting in violence, compared with a group of students on a vacation to a nearby lake--not the same. I could not locate the raw footage of the events, which could be informative and let people see the evidence and form their opinions. I think showing footage edited by one group or the other would not be a fair depiction of those events. You wouldn't want to see peaceful protesters targeted, but it appears the Dearborn group may have been inciting the crowd intentionally.
Jeanne Gustafson September 09, 2012 at 08:10 PM
If you are looking for more info on incidents at the Dearborn Arab Festivals related to protesters: (from 2011) http://dearborn.patch.com/articles/six-arrested-in-bamn-mobbing-of-pastor-jones ; (and from 2012) http://dearborn.patch.com/articles/demonstrators-claim-assault-went-unpunished-at-dearborn-s-arab-international-festival
Ken James September 10, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I'm not a fan of the diatribe on that video. If their vehicle was vandalized then I'm all for a proper investigation and justice for whoever is responsible. Comments about the perceived difference in the ethnic ratio during their trip (at 1:12 in the video) could lead some to believe that there are some axes being ground. And regarding this comment: "Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of CAIR's Washington chapter, said anti-Muslim "hate speech" by political and religious leaders has led to ongoing acts of violence toward Muslim Americans across the country." I listen to a lot of politcal speeches (perhaps not as many religous speeches as I should), and I haven't heard many hate speeches that would provoke "ongoing acts of violence toward Muslim Americans, or even Muslim non-Americans. Could we get a list of those speechs from Mr. Bukhari, please? The only message I hear about Muslims from political and religious leaders is a plea to them to use their influence to consistently and loudly condemn hostility in the name of their religion.
Kirkland Tony September 10, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I hate going to Seattle. I drive nice cars. Probably 10% of the time I come back to a new ding, a new intentional scratch or even, seriously, a knifed tire. In several cases, I'm pretty sure who did it. I'd had no personal contact - it wasn't personal. And I'm a different race. But there's no way the SPD would care, nor would anyone take up a banner to protest the attack on me. Forget the "hate" portion of the crime. Crime was committed. Let's go back to when we punished that, rather than protesting and dividing.
Caitlin Moran September 10, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Hi Ken, to answer your question, Mr. Bukhari said he was mostly referring to remarks made by political candidates. He specifically named Rep. Joel Walsh from Illinois (if you Google his name and "Muslims," you'll get some relevant results). The CAIR website also links to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center that highlights some recent incidents the group says is "ginning up anger": http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2011/summer/jihad-against-islam
Kirkland Tony September 10, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Yeah, hate speech. Like when Walsh said "God damned" them and that all ills inflicted on them were just "chickens coming home to roost". Like when Walsh said that Muslims were controlling the vote. And then said they were genocidal. Oh, wait... That wasn't Walsh and Muslims. That was Jeremiah Wright attacking Americans and Jews. Why isn't it hate speech when it's against Americans, or Christians, or non-minorities, or Jews? Is there really some Jewish, Catholic or Protestant army decapitating Muslims on TV and threatening to kill them due to some comic strips or burnt books? It seems to me that, even if there were (and I can't think of any), others would quickly and LOUDLY disavow them. CAIR is attacking the wrong problem. Walsh may be clumsy and even wrong, but he isn't the problem... CAIR actually IS. Try this... The Cair.com site search doesn't work, so search google for "taliban site:cair.com". 154 hits. Now do "walsh site:cair.com". 58 hits. They should be EXTREMELY focused on what the Taliban has done to the image of Islam and in the name of Muslims... but they are at 40% as focused JUST ON WALSH! Wouldn't it be nice if we could get past all the politically-correct bull-pucky so we could honestly and accurately discuss what CAIR (and Jeremiah Wright) are up to? Hate speech comes from those doing the hating... those obsessed and caring. Middle America is the victim now.
Ken James September 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Thank you for the follow-up, Caitlin. That is what I expected, but I wanted to be sure that I hadn't missed an actual onslaught of hate speech.
Caitlin Moran September 11, 2012 at 05:03 PM
FYI to everyone following this story, we've posted an update with a statement from the Lake Chelan chamber of commerce here: http://patch.com/A-xF3j

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