Vandals recently targeted a Muslim-owned grocery store with anti-Muslim sentiments and derogatory slurs aimed at a prominent metro Muslim leader and several Muslim organizations.
Saad Mohammed, director of Islamic news and information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said OK Halal Meat & Grocery store at 3620 NW 39th, was vandalized on Thursday. He said the store is owned by a Muslim and is adjacent to the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City’s mosque at 3815 St. Clair.
Mohammed said vandals used orange paint to write crude remarks, at least one of which referred to him by name, along with the acronym for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society. Mohammed is chairman of the board for CAIR-Oklahoma.
He said Islamic Society leaders and the store’s owner think the vandalism occurred overnight Thursday. The store owner discovered the vandalism on the backside of his building which faces one side of the mosque about 10 a.m. Thursday. Mohammed said the prevailing thought is that the vandals did not target the mosque because of the security cameras that are installed there.
He said he thinks he was the focus of at least one crude comment because of his prominence in the community as spokesman for the Islamic Society.
“I was personally targeted, I think because I’m the chairman of CAIR and I’m the director of news and information for the Islamic Society so who better to target,” he said. “One statement said ‘Saad is not welcome here.'”
Another statement said “CAIR not welcome here,”and the vandals also wrote messages directed at the Islamic Society. The vandalism also mentioned the terrorist group ISIS.
Mohammed said the store owner contacted Adam Soltani, executive director of CAIR-OK, and Soltani reached out to him. He said the trio then contacted the police and filed a police report.
Mohammed said the Islamic Society’s youth group and members of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma gathered Friday to paint over the vandals’ handiwork. He said he thinks the vandals knew about the store’s connection to the mosque, referring to the fact that the store owner attends the mosque and that the store has many Muslim customers because it sells meat that was sacrificed and cut according to Islamic law. The store also sells other foods and spices from different countries like Pakistan and India.
Mohammed said he was not concerned that vandals targeted him by name in one of their messages. He said he takes precautions on a regular basis when he is out in the community so he has no special concerns now.
“I take caution, look around, that sort of thing,” he said.
The Muslim leader said he was pleased with the response from the society’s youth group and the Interfaith Alliance.
“The response was outstanding,” he said. “We will continue educating people and pushing forward and try to bridge this gap of hate.”