Video of a snarling man-child insulting a Muslim woman at a California coffee shop has gone viral, becoming the latest hateful episode caught on a smart phone to capture the country's attention.
The woman behind the camera, who was reportedly wearing a niqab, begins recording after the man apparently asks her if it's Halloween. She then engages him in what becomes a heated exchange, inquiring about his thoughts on Islam.
"I don't like it, how's that?" the man says. "I don't like that because I don't like your religion and it says to kill me and I don't want to be killed by you, how's that?"
The incident reportedly occurred out at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf location in Riverside, Calif. on Friday.
As the exchange continues, someone from across the coffee shop yells "Get out of here! Get out of here! [Expletive] racist!"
Shortly thereafter, the supervisor on duty tells the man to leave the store, "because he's disrupting a public place and being very racist."
For Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the supervisor in the shop didn't act fast enough.
"That was too long," he says. "No one should be berated even for 15 seconds."
Walid offers some tips for how people should handle such situations — regardless of their ethnicity, as African-Americans and other groups encounter similar problems. He says that while there can be value in taking cell phone video to capture what people are doing and saying, "Safety should always be the primary consideration."
"I certainly don't suggest that people pull out cell phones and record people when they're up in their face, especially if they're threatening violence," Walid says.
If a person does record, he says that video is more valuable if it sheds light on the practices of an establishment or a state actor, like law enforcement.
"The responsibility lies in these situations of verbal harassment ... with the actual management of these businesses," he says. "Recording is fine, but it needs to be a comment to the management — like, do you allow this type of behavior in your store?"
He points out that it's perfectly legal for people to berate someone about their religion or tell them to get out of the country. In the case of this video, he says it "raises awareness" about the problem of bigotry, "but awareness in and of itself doesn't solve the problem."
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