Yesterday’s (September 19) arrest of Ahmad Khan Rahami in connection with pipe bomb blasts in New York and New Jersey that injured at least 29 people over the weekend has prompted Islamophobic backlash—including on the Yelp page of the suspect’s family restaurant. The Daily Beast reported that the online review service put a temporary lock on the page for First American Fried Chicken, which users flooded with one-star reviews and vitriolic statements.
Some of the comments on one-star reviews cited included:
- "There is a serious Jihad problem in this country! Me thinks that there needs to be an ethnic cleansing here and fast!!!!"
- "When a family member is considered the prime suspect in Radical Islamic Terrorist bombings in NYC and NJ and he worked there, not good for business… say no to terrorism in our great City!"
- "Your restaurant should be closed down permanently and every member of your family should be deported back to TERRORSTAN."
- "If you are a Filthy Mohammedan savage, then by all means stop back by and enjoy their cockroach-laden Halal food, which means the animal has been ritually tortured before processing because Satan/Allah commands it."
Yelp put an "Active Cleanup Alert" on the page yesterday. It described the reason for shutting down the page:
"Reviews aren’t the place for rants about a business’s employment practices, political ideologies, extraordinary circumstances, or other matters that don’t address the core of the consumer experience," a Yelp spokesperson told The Daily Beast. "Yelp reviews are required to describe a firsthand consumer experience, not what someone read in the news or sees in a video."
The New York Daily News says Rahami, a native of Afghanistan, clerked at his family’s restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey. FBI agents raided the restaurant yesterday morning, leaving the restaurant’s future in jeopardy.
The search for Rahami ended yesterday with a non-lethal shootout between Rahami and police in Linden, New Jersey. Authorities faced particular criticism for one of their investigative tactics: sending an emergency text alert to New York City residents that read, "WANTED: Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28-yr-old male. See media for pic. Call 9–1–1 if seen." As a criticism in a New York Magazine essay read, "It essentially deputizes the five boroughs and encourages people to treat anyone who looks like he might be named ‘Ahmad Khan Rahami’ with suspicion."
Meanwhile, details continue to emerge about Rahami and his past. His family sued the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and its police department in 2011 over alleged Islamophobic discrimination. His father, Mohammad Rahami, told The New York Times today (September 20) that he called the FBI about his son’s possible terrorist involvement after Ahmad stabbed another of Mohammad’s sons during a fight in 2014.
"Two years ago I go to the F.B.I. because my son was doing really bad, O.K.?" he said. "But they check almost two months, they say, ‘He’s O.K., he’s clean, he’s not a terrorist.’ I say O.K." An anonymous law enforcement official told the Times that they recovered a notebook after the shootout featuring statements advocating jihad. No foreign Islamist terror network has claimed responsibility for the attack.