Council on American-Islamic Relations Warns Muslim-Owned Businesses to Be Alert

12:07 - November 10, 2021
News ID: 3476428
TEHRAN (IQNA) – Vandals in Catonsville, US state of Maryland, targeted three different Muslim-owned restaurants, smashing windows and stealing cash registers all in the past few months.

Council on American-Islamic Relations


 A Muslim advocacy group has a message for similar restaurants in the area.

The most recent burglary was early Friday morning. According to business owners and Council on American-Islamic Relations, no suspects have been arrested in any of the cases.

Willard Black works at Champs Pizza and Wings on Reisterstown Road where suspects have broken into the restaurant three times since September. They smashed windows, stole merchandise and walked out with a cash register.

At least one employee is too afraid to come back to work.

"We felt vulnerable, we felt unfair, we felt we really couldn't trust anybody around us," Black said.

Champs is one of three Muslim-owned restaurants in the Baltimore area that have been burglarized in recent weeks.

"At this point, we don't have any indication that there is a hate/bias motive," Zainab Chaudry, director of CAIR's Maryland office, said.

While Chaudry said they don't have any evidence at this point that the crimes are hate-based, she notes the similarities and wants business owners to be aware, cautious and vigilant.

"Out of an abundance of caution, especially in this political climate when we have seen an uptick of Islamophobia, nationally and globally, we just want to stay vigilant and encourage folks to do their best to report anything unusual," she said.

All of the restaurants, Champs, Legends Halal Shack on Rolling Road and Mazza Kabob Afghan Grill on Baltimore National Pike are within about 15 minutes of each other -- all broken into after closing time.

According to CAIR, surveillance video in at least two cases shows suspects in masks rummaging through the businesses and taking off with safes and cash registers.

CAIR put out the advisory Tuesday.

"Small business owners, especially within the Muslim community, to just be careful be cautious, to not leave valuable data-x-items out in the open to make sure that they have surveillance cameras aimed toward a door that they have a plan in place," Chaudry said.

Black, at Champs, said the crimes won't stop him from coming to work, but arrests will certainly give him peace of mind.

"I don't only want them caught for us, I want them to catch them for the whole neighborhood, so the neighborhood won't be victims as well," he said.

CAIR is working with police to help businesses identify vulnerabilities and come up with safety plans.



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