Islamophobia: Worker upset by threats in notes - Miami Herald
- Worker upset by threats in notes
Deputies are looking into some ethnically derogatory
notes left on the windshield of a car salesman's
BY JANETTE NEUWAHL
Ziad Ismail, a Palestinian man who sells cars in
Deerfield Beach, said he tried for months to ignore
the ethnic slurs directed toward him by colleagues at
work before contacting police.
But on Friday, Ismail left the dealership where he
works and found a note wedged under his car's
windshield wiper that read ''to Gaza or death.'' The
50-year-old Coral Springs resident decided to call
Then, on Sunday, Ismail found another note that
stated, ''You must quit or go to Jerusalem,'' and he
called the police again.
Each of the paper messages included letters cut out
from magazines, so no handwriting could be traced,
police reports indicate.
Ismail waited for Broward Sheriff's Office deputies to
investigate and told the management at his office,
King Motor Co. of South Florida, about the incident.
On Monday, a shaken Ismail returned to work, where he
sells Suzukis, Hyundais and Saturns, he said.
''The cops are taking care of it -- thank God -- and
we'll see what happens,'' Ismail said, hoping that
deputies will be able to catch the notes' author.
Ismail declined in a phone interview to say more about
BSO is investigating the incidents as possible hate
crimes, said spokesman Hugh Graf.
''We obviously are concerned. We value his safety, his
well-being, his thoughts and opinions, and we're going
to investigate this thoroughly . . . and see if it
falls into parameters of a hate crime,'' Graf said.
In a police report, Ismail states that a sales manager
had been ''making racial statements and jokes to other
employees'' and also called him a ``little
Ismail told deputies that ''other employees get
involved with the statements made like it's a running
joke,'' and that such derogatory comments also were
made in front of customers.
Jeff Gale, vice president at King Motor, 1399 S.
Federal Hwy. in Deerfield Beach, issued a statement
about the incidents.
''King Motor has a strict policy prohibiting
harassment or discrimination of any kind,'' the
statement reads. ``We are working closely and
cooperating fully with authorities to find the
responsible party. We are also conducting our own
investigation into this matter and are hopeful that
this will be resolved as soon as possible.''
Gale declined to comment further.
Edie Perez, a friend of Ismail, said Ismail started
working at the dealership in January. She said he has
lived in the United States since he was 12.
''It started off jokingly, but now it's just a
constant harassment on this poor guy and he doesn't
deserve this,'' said Perez, who said she has known
Ismail for about two years. ``He's one of the top
salesmen, so he's bringing in productivity to the
company and . . . when he has complained to his
immediate supervisors, they say don't worry about it
-- just go out and sell cars.''
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a
Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group, is also
looking into Ismail's complaint, said the
organization's Florida legal advisor, Areeb Naseer.
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