CAIR challenges San Bruno rejection of Ramadan request

Outside San Bruno City Hall, residents of Palestinian descent and their allies rallied with signs and calls for a Gaza ceasefire Thursday.

"San Bruno has one of the largest Palestinian communities in the Peninsula and we are very much a part of the culture and lifestyle here of the city," said Kamilah Albahri, a San Bruno resident.

Now, however, the ceasefire group is upset. They say the city targeted and intimidated some of their members during Ramadan at a March 12th city council meeting.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent a letter this week to San Bruno Mayor Rico Medina.

The letter stated that the city refused their request to let the group break their Ramadan fast in the lobby of the San Bruno Senior Center, outside the room where the city council was meeting.

"We had brought some food, some water, some pizzas to quickly break our fast," said Kamilah Albahri. "When we put our stuff on the table, the chief of police came over and asked us to remove all of the food and to go outside."

The group shared a photo and said outside, they found two tents had been placed in the parking lot with a few tables and no chairs. They said it was cold and windy.

"The ground was wet outside too and the tents were surrounded by police cars and police cones," said Eleni Katout, a San Bruno Palestinian American resident.

The group shared a photo of their group, showing nine people in the lobby. They said they refused to leave and were surrounded by three police officers, while they ate their pizza before returning to the meeting.

The group says it is common for people to eat at the lobby tables and felt they were being unfairly targeted.

"The senior center has a main entry way and foyer, there's a vending machine, a cafe," Albahri said. "We've been coming to all these city council meetings. Many a time our community has sat out there and enjoyed a snack or two with some water and there was never any issue."

KTVU went to San Bruno City Hall and reached out to the mayor, city manager, and city council members. KTVU left multiple messages by phone and email for Mayor Medina, but as of Thursday night, there was no response.

"I'd like to see them to take some effort into understanding how culturally disrespectful that was," Katout said.

"I would like an apology. I think that the city needs to engage our community and sit down and participate in dialogue and really understand why this was something that was offensive to us," Albahri said.

Along with an apology, CAIR's letter asks for the city to explain why the Ramadan request was rejected, and calls for training city officials to promote better cultural understanding.

Late Thursday night, City Council member Marty Medina did respond by phone. He confirmed that all city council members received a copy of the CAIR letter. He said he could not speak for the entire council, and that they had not yet met to discuss the letter's contents. 

You can read the full letter from CAIR, here


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