A racist harassed popular restaurateur Zareen Khan; and here is how the Pakistani American responded

Zareen Khan, the owner of the Michelin guide restaurant Zareen, was harassed in Palo Alto.

In Trump’s polarized America, even the congresswomen are not safe from being racially profiled and being told to “go back to their countries.” And journalists could be asked about their ethnicity at official press conferences, just as presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway asked a journalist earlier this week.

Most immigrants have a racism story, which also, in a way, defines their American experience.

But recently one South Asian American restaurant owner in the San Francisco Bay area made sure that her racist harasser was dealt with in a manner that would be his worst nightmare.

If you have ever been to the South Bay Area, you may have received recommendations to dine at the very popular Michelin Guide restaurant Zareen’s, which serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine.

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The eatery on South California Avenue is perpetually full of diners. Over the weekend, Zareen Khan, the Pakistani-American owner of the eatery, was shocked to find herself as a victim of racial abuse right near her hometown, which is a hub of immigrant culture in America.

Khan was heading to a business lunch in Sunnyvale, when a stranger approached her to ask her where she was from. When Khan answered, Pakistan, he further prodded her, “Muslim?” When she answered, “Yes,” he said, “Terrorist, terrorist”— twice.
The incident shook Khan, who has lived in the area all her life. However, she did not let it pass as another racially charged incident. She responded by sending a profound message to all those who are against immigration, or treat immigrants badly.

Khan has vowed that she will be, from now on, donating a portion of sales from her two restaurants to American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an organization that defends immigrant rights.

In a sort of a masterstroke, Khan responded to her harasser by telling him that immigrants are here to stay with dignity in America and doing her part to make sure that immigrants get resources to flourish in this country.

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In a Facebook post, Khan related the incident. “Yesterday, as I was visiting a restaurant for a meeting, I was harassed by a man who followed me around, staring at me,” she wrote. “As I sat down, he came to my table and repeatedly called me terrorist. He quieted down after being told by the staff that he would be kicked out if he continued. There is no artful way to put it: being attacked like this-in my town where I always have felt safe- it hurt.

“Tomorrow ICE raids will begin and, as a result, over 2,000 undocumented immigrants, who have been through the unimaginable already, will be targeted and sent to detention centers. And as ugly as my experience was, these people will face far worse. Recent reports show that 41 detainees have been living in a cell built for eight, and to date 3,000 children have been separated from their parents by ICE. This is unacceptable. Our country was built and continues to be built on the backs of immigrants and refugees, they must be protected. Never again, is now. After seeing what these immigrants have gone through, and after experiencing just a modicum of the ignorance they face daily, I have come to a decision. Both Zareen’s locations will now be donating a portion of all sales to the ACLU, an organization which defends immigrant rights. Wherever that racist man is now, I hope he knows that thanks in part to his bigotry, more immigrants will be getting the resources and respect they deserve.”

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