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Customers Show Support for Vandalized Middle Eastern Shop

Courtesy South Salt Lake City Police
Middle Eastern Pastry and Deli

The owners of the Middle Eastern shop that was vandalized late Tuesday night have wiped away the graffiti, and opened their doors again for business.  While police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, the shop is suddenly getting a lot more business.

By Friday at lunchtime, there is no sign of the swastikas that were painted on the door and front window of the South Salt Lake pastry shop and deli. Inside, a steady stream of customers is buying spices, hummus, and baklava. The owner is from Lebanon, though he’s lived here for decades. He does not want to be identified, but says he is surprised by all the support he’s received. Customer Iehab Hawatmeh says he’s never been to this shop before, but when he heard about the possible hate crime, he decided to come.

“I’m sure he’s scared to death and worried and all the emotions that he had to go through, so I just wanted to come here and support him,” Hawatmeh says. He lives in Sandy, and he came to Utah more than twenty years ago from the country of Jordan. “I mean, we’re all foreigners, just who came here first? It’s just sad to see some people feel entitlement to this country more than others, and I think that is just wrong.”

Joy Bossi from Kearns is another first-time customer who also came after hearing about the graffiti on the news.

“I think our community is better than what we just saw, and I hope others come in and show that we are better than that,” Bossi says. She came today to show support, but she says she’ll likely be back for more pastries.

“I got a pistachio roll, and a baklava pistachio, and then this neat cream thing that I wrote down, and probably couldn’t remember the name of, but it looks really good.”

South Salt Lake City police say the investigation continues, though they don’t have a lot of leads on the suspect. They believe it is a hate crime, which means the perpetrator – if found - could be charged with a felony.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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