Karizma Hair Salon has been at the same northeast Calgary location for 14 years, and staff say they’ve never had any issues until this week.
On Tuesday, an employee discovered graffiti spray painted on the side door of the salon, shocking the entire staff.
“Go Home Dirty Muslims,” was crudely written in black spray paint.
“Really horrible,” owner of Karizma, Adam Zeinab, said. “It’s an insult.”
Several employees of the salon are of the Muslim faith and say they have no idea who would have vandalized the business.
They immediately called police, who said they weren’t as shocked to see the graffiti.
“We do see more instances than I’d like to admit to, unfortunately, it’s on the increase,” Calgary police hate crimes coordinator Craig Collins said.
“It’s a quick and easy hit by cowards, quite frankly, that don’t have that ability to step forward and have that debate with somebody about a view that they might have.”
Zeinab, a Canadian for 20 years, immigrated from Lebanon. He said this was the first time he’s has experienced an incident like this, and hopes it won’t become a new normal in Calgary.
“It’s been such a great experience living in Canada, such a peaceful and beautiful country,” he said. “We all came here for a better living and more peace, and I find this is the country where you can practice your own religion more than anywhere else. People accept it and people are more open-minded about it.”
He said his staff remains undeterred by the message.
According to Calgary police, the incident is being investigated as a case of mischief, but a second investigation has been opened into the motive behind the graffiti. If investigators can prove it was hate-motivated, it allows a judge to increase the sentence.
“I’m not sure that people realize the message that it’s sending,” Collins said. “It isn’t just the victim of the salon that feels that hate, that bias, that fear, it actually runs through the whole community because they’re being targeted for their ethnicity and that’s a nasty thing to target somebody for.”
Collins believes more people have been reporting these types of incidents to police, something he hopes people will continue to do to help investigators become more proactive.
“If you’re targeting somebody, or a community for let’s say their sexual orientation or in this case because you’re Muslim, you’re attacking a whole community,” Collins said. “It’s vile, it’s disgusting, there is no place for it.”
Back at the salon, the graffiti was cleaned up shortly after police arrived.
Zeinab said the message he hopes to get across following this incident is that a person isn’t defined by their religion.
“It has nothing to do with religion,” Zeinab said. “It’s who you are.
“You should always respect others.”