CASTRO VALLEY (CBS SF) — A group of people holding a Muslim prayer gathering at an East Bay park were harassed and insulted by a passerby who then threw a cup of coffee at one of them in an incident caught on camera.
The East Bay Regional Parks Police is investigating the incident last Sunday at Lake Chabot Regional Park in Alameda County. The group said it began when the passerby began insulting the Islamic faith and accusing the group of being terrorists.
The woman, identified as Denise Slader, encountered the men around 3 p.m. Sunday at the volleyball courts near the park’s entrance, according to parks spokeswoman Carolyn Jones. Slader is an employee of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Jones said.
Rasheed Albeshari told the Bay Area News Group he and his friends tried to tell Slader that his group “believes in Jesus, we respect Jesus. But she came back and told us Allah is Satan and that Muslims were all trying to destroy everything nice. That’s when I started videotaping.” He posted the encounter on Facebook.
On the video, Slader is heard saying, “The people you tortured, are going to be in eternity in heaven. You are very deceived by Satan. Your mind has been taken over, brainwashed, and you have nothing but hate. Nothing but hate.”
“This woman came from nowhere,” Albeshari told KPIX Wednesday. “She was yelling, ‘Allah is Satan!’ ‘The Koran is evil!’ and ‘You are a bunch of brainwashed murderers!'”
When a park ranger comes over to Slader to interrupt her diatribe and ask if it was appropriate to be addressing the men in such fashion, she responded, “It is inappropriate, you’re right, for somebody to tape record me.”
When Albeshari is heard on the video responding, “this lady is talking about my God,” Slader approached the camera and apparently hits him with her umbrella, tossing her coffee at him in the process.
At that point some screaming is heard and Albeshari tells someone to “call the cops.”
On his Facebook post, Albeshari claims he was “hit by an umbrella before taking a shower of coffee right on my face.”
“Sometime when I watch the news, I see these things — things of hate. But I never thought they would happen to me. Not in the Bay Area,” Albeshari told KPIX.
Albeshari is an American citizen. He used to live Yemen, but says he moved back to the Bay Area because of how tolerant the people are here.
Though he was shaken by the encounter in the park, he says he is finding encouragement in all the comments being left on his Facebook video.
Park district police responded and an officer took statements and wrote a report recommending a charge of misdemeanor battery, Jones said.
The report is expected to be forwarded to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday and the decision on whether to pursue a hate crime charge will be left up to prosecutors, Jones said.
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