A group of Muslim teenagers were simply trying to enjoy a meal when they were subjected to a terrible display of racism from a fellow diner at a Chicago-area restaurant on Monday.
Sawin Osman, 17, was leaving Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant on Monday evening with four friends—all of whom were wearing traditional Muslim head coverings—when a white man began to exclaim loudly, “that girl could break a camel’s back.” When the girls confronted the man over his comments, and began filming the encounter, he exclaimed, “You can go and beat it. If you don’t like this country, leave.”
Osman confirmed to Yahoo News that she and her four friends are all from Chicago.
As the group walked away from the man, he was filmed calling them “fucking goddamn, camel-jacking motherfucking cunts.”
Video of the racist rant was posted online by Sean Anthony, Osman’s father.
“They stood up for themselves, I’m proud to say,” Anthony wrote. “The interaction escalated to what you see here.”
Speaking with CBS 2, Osman explained that “We didn’t say anything to him. We were completely calm, just walking past him.”
“He’s the one who instigated the whole incident,” she added.
Both Anthony and Osman’s mother, Catherine Bronson, are professors of Islamic studies, Yahoo News reported. For Bronson, the incident is a manifestation of the toxic atmosphere created by Donald Trump.
“We live in a very charged climate,” Bronson told Yahoo. “I think the furor at the presidential level has sort of exacerbated this feeling and given a platform for those who might not have spoken out so aggressively.”
I have reached out to Pepe’s corporate office for a statement on the incident, and will update this story with their response.
UPDATE: 12:30—Pepe’s Incorporated President Robert Ptak sent Fusion the following statement confirming Monday evening’s incident, and pledging future action.
Pepe’s Incorporated and our entire Franchise family offer our sincere apologies to the women who were harassed and insulted by another customer at one of our restaurants on Monday night. Pepe’s condemns and rejects all discriminatory comments and actions directed to any of our customers and employees.
Pepe’s has always worked hard to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere at our restaurants for all of our customers and will continue to do so in the future. The customer who made the inflammatory comments to the women will not be allowed in our restaurants.
The safety, comfort, and welfare of all our patrons and employees is our utmost concern. We are reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure that all our customers will continue to enjoy their dining experience at Pepe’s.