Muhammad Rahami’s restaurant was a neighborhood nuisance … or the target of anti-Muslim harassment. (More)

“Suspect’s Family Ran a Restaurant That Aggravated Neighbors”

That’s the headline of the New York Times’ tale of the Rahami family’s restaurant:

Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man wanted in the bombing, is the son of a man named Muhammad Rahami who runs a fast-food restaurant, First American Fried Chicken, in the ground floor of their home on Elmora Avenue, neighbors said.

The restaurant, which has employed Ahmad and some of his brothers, was such a persistent neighborhood nuisance that the city forced it to close early, said Mayor J. Christian Bollwage of Elizabeth.

The city passed an ordinance to force the restaurant to close at 10pm, and buried in the Times’ tale is a passing mention that the elder Rahami sued the city for anti-Muslim harassment. Of course the mayor denied the harassment, but:

[Neighbor Dean McDermott] said that the Rahami family and the community came to an uneasy truce. The restaurant wouldn’t close at 10 p.m., but police stopped hassling them, and they would close at midnight or 1 a.m.

NewJersey.com’s Stephen Sterling has more on the lawsuit:

The family of Ahmad Khan Rahami, arrested in connection with weekend bombings in Seaside Park and New York City, sued the city of Elizabeth in 2011, alleging a pattern of harassment and religious discrimination by city officials.

According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, the Rahami family said Elizabeth police officers repeatedly forced the closure of their family restaurant, First American Fried Chicken. The lawsuit alleges one man frequently entered the restaurant and told family members “Muslims don’t belong here” and “Muslims are trouble.”

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage confirmed the longstanding issues with the family, but said the city’s actions against their restaurant were strictly code-related.
 
“It was strictly about neighbors calling about noise,” Bollwage said. “It was never ethnicity or religion or beliefs or anything like that.”

Of course the mayor would say that, with the lawsuit still pending. And to judge by the reader comments – uggh, don’t bother – this may be the only case in recent history where regulations targeting a specific business are not “intrusive.” Just sayin’.

And it turns out McDermott isn’t exactly a disinterested party either:

In 2011, Mr. Rahami’s father and those two sons filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Elizabeth, the Police Department, nine police officers, Mr. McDermott and others. The Rahamis alleged that the family was the target of a campaign of humiliation and retaliation. The Rahamis said Mr. McDermott told them that “Muslims make too much trouble in this country” and “Muslims should not have businesses here.”

Again, that’s buried in a New York Times story, and not the one whose headline claims the restaurant “aggravated neighbors.”

“Active cleanup alert”

There’s another tale of the Rahami’s restaurant, reported by Vocativ’s Sara Morrison:

Online restaurant “reviewers” are flooding the pages of the restaurant owned by the family of suspected New York and New Jersey bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami – and the majority are leaving hate speech-filled reviews of the business owner and his family, not of the food they serve.

News broke on Monday that Rahami was a suspect in the attack, around when First American Fried Chicken, his family’s New Jersey restaurant, was raided by the FBI, along with the apartment upstairs. Almost immediately, reviews on Facebook, Yelp, and Google pages for the restaurant multiplied.

It is not clear what, if any, involvement Rahami’s family had in the alleged attack – but that hasn’t stopped “reviewers” from going so far as to wish death to everyone in Rahami’s family, or to all Muslims everywhere.

On Yelp, First American Fried Chicken had only 3 reviews before the bombings, and all were favorable (there was also one review that was marked as “not recommended” that gave it one star for its delivery service). There are now at least 64 reviews of the restaurant, which is currently averaging one and a half stars, and Yelp has put up an “active cleanup alert.” The site writes, “This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news.”

One ‘reviewer’ wrote: “Me thinks there needs to be an ethnic cleansing here, and fast!”

Another wrote: “When Trump becomes president, we’re gonna line up all the rest of you assholes beside your s–tbag son.”

Another: “You should all be rounded up and set on fire.”

A more thoughtful person wrote:

There are many Americans who sympathize with this most difficult time in your life. I don’t believe in guilt by association. I am sorry that so many Americans are proving their worth with the venom and anger spewing from their lips. I pray for you and hope you guide your son now to know that whatever anger you had at the local government or even the US government, that there are better ways to deal with it. Please forgive those who don’t know how to.

To which someone replied: “Why don’t you move over to the Middle East lady.”

But we should take the mayor’s word that “It was never ethnicity or religion or beliefs or anything like that.”

Yeah, right.

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Photo Credit: Bryan Anselm (New York Times)

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Good day and good nuts