Vandal targeting Muslim-owned business strikes again

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An emergency safety meeting has been scheduled for Friday evening after multiple incidents of vandalism.

The vandal struck again Wednesday night. For the second time in less than a week, someone smashed windows at a Muslim-owned store called New Medina Market in north Austin.

This follows a series of incidents that happened earlier this month at a mosque in the same area.  

“We’re one of the oldest Middle Eastern grocery stores in the City of Austin,” said Yusuf Khan. His family owns the market. “

“Sunday night was the first attack. I was astonished. I never thought it would happen to us,” Khan said. 

A man was caught on the store’s surveillance camera smashing a window. Wednesday night, Khan was woken up in the middle of the night again. 

“I just couldn’t believe it. I thought I was in a dream, and it took me about 20-30 seconds to realize this is not a dream. This is reality,” he said.

Austin Police said they believe the same person went up to the New Medina Market’s entrance both times and broke the windows. 

The surveillance video shows the man holding an object that looks like a hammer and hitting the window panels multiple times. The incident lasts about 5 seconds. 

“I’m just praying that police can catch him, find him,” Khan said. “I can’t sleep at night peacefully. We’ve had two attacks the past four days. I’m just scared in the middle of the night again, my mom telling me, ‘Hey, he’s come back again and struck us again,’ so that’s my fear.”

APD said the same person also appears to be a person of interest in a series of vandalism cases just two miles up the road from the market at the North Austin Muslim Community Center.

He was caught on camera at the mosque as well. 

“I was actually shocked that this person is so bold as to repeat his behavior within a few nights,” said Imam Islam Mossaad. 

“We want to be able to worship God freely, which we find afforded to us here in the U.S.,” said Mossaad. “We want to continue to see that freedom, not just for Muslims, but for all faith. We also want prosperity and security for our families, just like any other American would want for their own families.”

“We come in peace. We’re just regular Americans like everybody else,” Khan said. “What did we do to deserve this? We’re regular people, just trying to make a living. We’ve never harmed anybody. I don’t know why he would do this.”

Simone Talma Flowers, Executive Director of Interfaith Action of Central Texas, said “Austin is a very welcoming community, and this behavior has no place here, and it has no place in any of our faith communities. When it happens to one, it happens to all. We take offense.”

Imam Mossaad said APD and CAIR Austin, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, will be at Friday’s meeting. It’s scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m. at the North Austin Muslim Community Center.

APD says they want to talk to the man seen on the surveillance system. They say if you have any information, call 512-472-TIPS, text “Tip 103” + your message to CRIMES or contact Detective Jason Greve at (512) 974-5543. 

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