Muslim Food Cart Vendor Blames Ramadan Fasting for Violent, Racist Attack on Black Customer
A Muslim food cart vendor in Portland, Oregon admitted to attacking a Black woman customer on Wednesday, and calling her the ‘n’ word, but he blamed the stress of fasting for Ramadan, as well as family and business stress, for the outburst–part of which was recorded on video by the customer. The vendor, Islam R. El Masry, subsequently posted two videos to YouTube talking about the attack.
Screen image via Willamette Week/YouTube.
Willamette Week first reported on the food truck incident, which was allegedly the result of the vendor getting violently angry when the Black female customer tried to pay for her order with quarters.
The owner of a downtown food cart was arrested on misdemeanor assault charges this afternoon after hurling a Gatorade bottle at a black customer and then allegedly spraying her with Sriracha.
A video taken by the alleged victim, Carlotta Washington, was provided to Willamette Week by an eyewitness. It shows Islam El Masry, owner of the Small Pharoah’s halal cart, arguing with Washington, who claims that El Masry called her the n-word after she attempted to pay for her lunch with quarters
The video shows El Masry telling her to “get the (f***) away” from the cart, then throws a Gatorade bottle at her, causing her to drop her phone…”
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Friday on the videos posted by El Masry with the headline, Portland food cart owner admits to using racial slur and dousing woman in Sriracha in videos
A food cart owner accused of a racist attack on a customer earlier this week released two rambling videos Friday, defending himself, blaming fasting for the incident and the media for blowing it out of proportion, and saying he hopes to go back to Egypt, his home country.
He also talks about using the racial slur and dousing the woman, who is African American, in Sriracha sauce.
Islam R. El Masry, the owner of Small Pharoah’s Egyptian and New Yorker Food at Southwest Fifth Avenue and Stark Street in downtown Portland, was arrested Wednesday after being filmed throwing a Gatorade bottle at customer Carlotta Washington.
…Washington told KGW in an interview that she never threw anything at El Masry.
El Masry says that after the bottle broke on the grill, he had to throw everything he was cooking in the garbage. Then, he says, he started insulting her “really bad,” got the Sriracha sauce and “put it in her face.”
He says he was in a bad mood because of pressure on his business and fasting for Ramadan.
“I was fasting at that day, and you know Ramadan,” he says, “we fast for like 18 hours now, and it’s really hard like to be in a hot place, no water and no food, and you’re cooking the food right in front of you. … plus also I’m a smoker, and I can’t smoke during the fasting.”
El Masry says even before the incident his main concern is selling his business so he can go home.
“My mom is sick,” he said. “My father’s sick.”
El Masry also said the victim threw a bottle at him, which the victim denied in an interview with KGW-TV.
Washington, who is a regular at the food cart on Southwest 5th Avenue and Stark Street, said El Masry appeared to be agitated with the customer before her and became more infuriated when he found out she was trying pay for her $7 lunch, in part, with quarters. Washington said she thought El Masry was going to count her money when he it took it from her hands but he instead threw it underneath the counter. At that point, Washington realized he wasn’t going to count it and asked for the money back because she was confident it was more than $7.
“That’s when he started getting angry, talking about, ‘I don’t have time for this,’” Washington said. “I really wasn’t putting two in two together. It was crowded and I just wasn’t really thinking and even considering how angry he was.”
El Masry told KGW he was extremely busy during the lunch rush and told Washington he didn’t have time to count the change and asked her to take her business elsewhere.
Washington said El Masry called her the n-word and ended up throwing the money back at her. She said that’s when she began crying, took out her cellphone and started filming.
…She said she never threw bottles at El Masry but shoved the bottles on his counter after he threw the Gatorade at her.
After she stopped filming, Washington said El Masry sprayed her with Sriracha hot sauce.
El Masry said he has a lot going on in his private life and his emotions got the best of him. He also said he’s not a racist.
“My father is black, I’m African too,” he said.
The El Masry videos:
The national news media has ignored this story of racial hate and violence. A news search shows only Portland media reporting on it, with the exception of the African-American focused site, The Root.
The story never broke through nationally though–even with video–likely because the perp did not fit the media’s narrative of who is racist in America.