A video shot Monday night in the Chicago suburbs caught an unidentified white man at a Mexican restaurant hurling obscenities and xenophobic insults at a group of Chicago teenagers wearing hijabs. The slurring man, who police haven’t ID’ed, tells the girls “you can go and beat it. If you don't like this country, leave.” The five Muslim girls were dining at Pepe’s, 8128 95th St in Hickory Hills, and had just broke their Ramadan fast for the day.
The girls told CBS Chicago that the man instigated the incident. They said they didn’t say anything to him before he began insulting them. One of the girls, Nour Jaghama, confronted the bigot, who was sitting with his apathetic dining partner who said nothing. The 16-year-old told the man: “It's our home too. What do you mean leave?” The man stands up, and the girls avoid a physical confrontation by leaving the restaurant. Watch the video, posted by one of the girl’s fathers, below. Be warned, it contains racial slurs.
This confrontation happened to my daughter and her friends while they were eating dinner for iftar (the meal that ends the daily fasts during Ramadan). The older gentleman began to harass one of the girls as being 'so big she'd break a camel's back'. They stood up for themselves, I'm proud to say, and the interaction escalated to what you see here.Posted by Sean Anthony on Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Pepe’s staff claimed that they didn’t know about the incident. The restaurant’s manager told CBS Chicago they would have immediately called police if they were aware of what was happening.
Fasting is an important aspect of Ramadan for those observing the holy month. This year, Ramadan started on May 24 and lasts through June 24. For that month Muslims fast from dawn until sunset.
Hickory Hills police have yet to track the man down. It’s not the first anti-Muslim incident at a southwest suburban Chicago restaurant. In February, a customer at a Middle Eastern restaurant in nearby Oak Lawn handed a server a dollar bill stamped with a message: “No Muslim Immigrants in the USA.”
UPDATE: Pepe’s posted a response on their website. Read it below:
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 June 5, 2017. 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.
Robert Ptak, President - Pepe’s Incorporated