Vandals smash Arab-owned tobacco shop window

by Seth Woehrle

After the terrorist attacks nearly two weeks ago, Nizar Alsadi took down from the walls anything that could have revealed his Dinkytown Tobacco store was Arab-American owned. But he forgot about one thing.

A plate engraved with a picture of a Jerusalem mosque hung in the window until about 2 a.m. Friday, when four men came out of Dub’s Bar and threw the seat from a nearby bike through the window, breaking the plate into pieces.

“I was downstairs when it happened but when I came out running, they had turned around the corner down the block,” said Alsadi, who said he thought the men aimed the bike seat at the plate because it looked Middle Eastern.

By the time police arrived, the men were gone, but Alsadi said some of Dub’s bartenders had gotten a good look at the four and would notify the police if they saw them again at the bar.

Alsadi, who has owned the shop for five years, estimated the damage to be from $500 to $700 as he watched the workmen replace the window.

He said he hadn’t experienced anything like the recent vandalism since he first came to the United States, when he moved from Kuwait to Winona, Minn., in 1979, a month before the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power Iran.

“So in 1980 he took 250 American hostages and keeps them two years,” he said. “I was a hostage in Winona for two years.”

At the age of 17, he endured racial slurs in the halls of his high school and thrown silverware in the cafeteria.

Alsadi, now 40, was born in a Syrian refugee camp. His parents were kicked out of Palestine, he said. He attended school from first to twelfth grade in Kuwait.

He is thinking about putting bars up to protect from future attacks but admits there’s not much he can do.

“I’m not going to dye my hair blond,” he said.

Some of his long-time customers were shocked at the vandalism.

“It’s sad. It’s ignorant. It’s foolish,” said Antoinette Masièe, who sat outside Espresso Royale on Friday afternoon. “It pisses me off.”

“He gives you free lighters all the time,” said Sean Waite, her companion across the table. “You go in and if he doesn’t have your brand – free lighter.”