Tensions are running high in Portland’s Muslim community after the deadly MAX train attack last Friday, but now we’re learning of another case of hate speech directed toward a married Muslim couple.
Advocates with the Oregon Committee of CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) report that the couple was targeted by a driver near Northeast 102nd and Glisan earlier this week as the wife wore a niqab, a traditional veil covering everything but her eyes.
According to CAIR, the couple reported that a white man in a car started shouting at them, saying “take the burka off, this is America, go back to your [expletive] country.”
They say the driver also made “hand gestures in the shape of a gun, pulling the ‘trigger’ multiple times.”
A spokesperson for Portland police confirms to FOX 12 that bias crimes detectives are aware of the situation and are investigating.
The driver hasn’t been found, but if he is, CAIR is calling for hate crimes charges to be filed against him.
“Since last Friday there is a lot of fear in the community,” said Djimet Dogo, with the northeast Portland-based Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, or IRCO.
Dogo isn’t connected with this particular case, but he told Fox 12 he’s not surprised to hear about it.
IRCO works with thousands of Muslim families in the Portland area every year. He says there’s been a sense of fear among his clients for months, but since Friday’s deadly attack on a MAX train it’s even worse.
“They don’t want to let their kids go out, they don’t want their children to go out to school, our clients - Muslim refugees who cover themselves - are so scared to take public transportation,” he said. “Some of the Muslim families, especially Muslim women, they came from a country where you have to have a hijab on you. And now you come here, you have the hijab, it’s a problem.”
IRCO works closely with religious and community leaders along with Portland Police, but as Dogo knows all too well, there’s no simple solution.
He’s working on community-based solutions to help ease fears and provide counseling to those who need it.
He wants people to remember that many of the Muslim families in the Portland area came here as refugees from war-torn countries, escaping hate and violence to find safety in America.
He hopes you’ll get to know them not as Muslims, but as people.
“They are good people,” Dogo said. “We urge the community at large to work with us, to know us, who we are and then together we will work for the greatest good for our community.”
Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.