A Muslim couple was thrown out of a mall in Arkansas, US and termed ‘terrorists’ on social media because their alleged “suspicious behavior” sparked concern among shoppers.
Alan and Daphne Crawford, who were dressed in a thobe and hijab, were escorted from the Central Mall in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with their son on Saturday after customers saw them filming and alerted security.
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The family had purchased $200 worth of shoes and a pair of Armani glasses when five police officers turned up and asked to leave the mall.
PHOTO: MAIL ONLINE
The couple was told that they were recording videos which went against mall policy that forbids photography without permission. It was not clear what the couple was filming at the time and they were not charged for any offences.
However, when they were being questioned, bystanders started taking pictures of them being chaperoned to the exit, which were then posted on social media accompanied with phrases, including “terrorist threat at the mall” and “Muslims have been scoping the layout of the mall.”
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An officer in a police report regarding the incident said, “I had two unknown subjects come up to me and advise me that a male subject wearing a thobe was video recording everyone in the mall and he was video-taping the entrances of several stores.”
However, while speaking to KFSM, Crawford claimed he was only recording audio and that five officers were not needed to escort the family out of the mall. “He informed me that he needed me to lift up my thobe in order to obtain my ID. What crime I committed, I don’t know. I wasn’t aware that police officers show up five at a time to enforce mall law. If you want me to leave, I will leave happily,” Crawford said.
Further, he said he was at the mall to shop and hand out leaflets for a local charity. Crawford insisted he saw no sign prohibiting filming and recording in the mall.
“I audio recorded the police officer and held my camera in the manner that would lead him to believe that I did video tape while he screamed at me and told me that “I can confiscate your phone”. You can’t confiscate my phone for mall law. I violated mall law, OK? Which wasn’t even clearly posted,” he said.
The mall responded to comments by highlighting its policy that filming is not allowed.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric has been on the rise in the US, following the San Bernardino attack carried out by a Muslim couple which left at least 14 people dead.
Recent remarks by Republican front-runner Donald Trump have also contributed to the growing Muslim intolerance. He recently called for the barring of all Muslims from the US and also said he would consider closing down some mosques if was elected.