Damage to Businesses and Mosques in Detroit Raises Wider Fears

January 9, 2007

Author: Cecil Angel

Source: Detroit Free Press


As they repaired the broken windows of at least a dozen businesses and mosques along Warren Avenue in Detroit, many Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims wondered Monday if the vandalism was retaliation by local supporters of Saddam Hussein who resented that they celebrated the hanging of the Iraqi dictator.

Sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, someone vandalized at least nine businesses and three mosques, all but one Shi'ite, according to Ali Zwen, manager of the Kufa Cultural Forum, a mosque at Warren and Archdale that sustained $4,000 in damage.

Detroit police have not made an arrest for the vandalism that occurred between Greenfield and a few blocks west of the Southfield Freeway. Most of the area's businesses with Arabic script on their signs were undamaged.

Many of the spared businesses are owned by Iraqi-American Christians, Lebanese Americans and others with Middle Eastern roots. The evidence is largely circumstantial that Shi'ites were targeted, but some of the victims say it is too coincidental.

At the Alrafedain Shish Kabob restaurant, employee Summer Ahmed, 24, said she answered two phone calls Saturday -- one at 9:55 p.m. and the other at 10:09 p.m. -- from a man speaking both Arabic and English as he used foul language in threatening to harm the business.

Later, the restaurant was damaged.