A fire at a Mediterranean restaurant in Wichita, Kansas might be, and should be, investigated as a hate crime after graffiti was discovered in the back of the restaurant with the warning, “Go Back.” An idiotic phrase heard far too often by prejudice Americans who hate those they consider different simply because they have different skin color, may have been born in a different country, or because they cover their hair.
Owners Ranya Taha and Bashar Mahanwe received a call early Wednesday morning informing them that their business, Petra Mediterranean Restaurant, was burning. The fire gutted the restaurant, destroying the family’s hard work, reported The Wichita Eagle.
Taha and Mahanwe found what they believe is a motive for the fire: On the back of the restaurant, someone had written in large, black letters: “Go Back.”
“It was two words that have a lot of hate in it,” Taha told the Eagle.
The couple had just opened Petra restaurant in April and had gone through great pains to rebuild the space and bring in decor from Jordan and Turkey “to make it really feel like Jordan when you enter,” Taha said.
“My family, we worked so hard for peace, [to] build bridges. Basically bringing Wichitans closer together,” Taha told the Eagle.
“[The arsonists] didn’t like what we were doing. They wanted to burn this bridge,” she continued.
A spokesman for the Kansas City field office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said investigators are still looking into exactly how the fire started. Once they’ve determined the cause of the fire, they can decide whether the fire was a hate crime.
“The FBI is aware of the fire; if the investigation would turn into a hate crime investigation, then they would become more involved,” the spokesman, John Hamm, said.
Taha said that there was a “small incident” about three months ago, when someone vandalized a restaurant window, but “we just covered it up and moved on.”
Taha and Mahanwe say they are comforted by how the community has rallied around them. They say they’ve lived in Wichita for years and have always found the community to be loving and supportive.
Watch the Wichita Eagle report below:
(Article By James Carter)