A Sylvania Township family says they can’t imagine how anyone could paint the racist graffiti they discovered on their garage door Tuesday night.
Someone painted a swastika and cursed Arabs in the graffiti on a house in the 7000 block of Cinnamon Teal Court. Sylvania Township police are investigating the incident as an act of “ethnic intimidation,” according to a media release today from police.
In a statement, CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson said:
“We call on state and local religious and political leaders — including the Township Administrator — to condemn this incident in the strongest possible terms in order to reassure all diverse communities that hate-motivated attacks and vandalism are not welcome in our state or community.
“We call on those community leaders to come together to host events that build bridges of understanding, mutual respect and tolerance in order to counter such hateful acts.
“We call on local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident in order to identify and apprehend the alleged perpetrators.”
CAIR’s national office has noted a spike in incidents targeting American Muslims and other minority groups since the Nov. 8 presidential election.
“I feel the hate of those people,” homeowner Souheir Eltatawy said. “I don’t know why they did that. We’ve been living in this neighborhood since 1999 and we’ve never had a problem with anyone. Even when the kids were growing up, we never had a problem with any of the neighbors.”
Her daughter May Eltatawy discovered the graffiti when she returned home at roughly 8:30 p.m.
“It’s just hard because my mom and I are the only ones living in this home since my father died,” she said. “I just really fear for my mom’s life.”
Moustafa Eltatawy of Toledo who does not live in the home, said his mother and sister were upset by the incident and called him. The family called Sylvania Township police.
“At first I was fearful and angry,” Mr. Eltatawy said. “But it wasn’t long before I started to feel sorry for the person who did it because the kind of energy that it would take to harbor that kind of hate, it would be taxing on that person. I feel that if they would have knocked I would have invited them in for a coffee or tea to talk about why he feels we are responsible for his anger.”
Mr. Eltatawy said his father, the late Rada Eltatawy, was a well-known wrestling coach in the region who also was a former Egyptian Olympic wrestler.
The younger Mr. Eltatawy’s aunt, Joumana Bazzy of Oregon, also was with the family this morning.
“We all come from somewhere else,” she said. “And that’s what being an American is. America is inclusive, not exclusive and that’s what makes America a great country. What happened here was done out of ignorance and fear and I hope we can all rise above this type of behavior.”
Julia Shearson, director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Cleveland chapter, said such direct intimidation sends a message of intolerance and fear.
Moustafa "Moose" Eltataway stands in front of his family home in Sylvania Township. The home was vandalized sometime between 8:15 and 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, he said. "I feel sorry for the person who did it," he said. "Not because I'd do anything to them, which I wouldn't, but because of the hate they must have in their heart." The Blade/Andy Morrison
Since Sept. 11, many have broadly scapegoated this vulnerable group. It is a counter-productive response, she said.
“That's why people in positions of power have to set an example of moral leadership that distinguishes between the problem of terrorism and the broader Muslim and Arab community that has nothing to do with it,” she said.
Ms. Shearson called on township leaders to condemn the hateful graffiti and local groups to consider programs that may help resolve these gaps.
Jennifer Nagel, a neighbor, said she could not believe “one of our neighbors would do this.”
“It’s hard to come up with words to express my sentiments,” Ms. Nagel said of the vandalism. “I was angry when police came here and told me about it last night. And I was angry again when I saw it this morning.”
Jill Blair, another neighbor, said what was done to the family was “terrible.”
Her husband, Dr. Robert Blair echoed her response, adding the victims have no enemies in the neighborhood as far as he knows.
“I feel terrible...” Dr. Blair said. “This country is so divided right now. I think all the animosity created by the [presidential] election divided the country more than I’ve ever seen it.”
Mr. Eltatawy said his mother does not have a security camera outside the house but, he said, police told the family they were going to check if any of her neighbors do.
Township police said they have no suspects. A police spokesman could not to be reached for comment.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 419-882-1250.
Blade staff writer Ryan Dunn contributed to this report.