Hasel Afshar, an Iranian who has lived in the U.S. for the past seven years, returned from a vacation this week to find that he was the latest victim in a series of anti-Muslim hate crimes that have proliferated since the election of Donald Trump.
Ironically, Afshar, a 33-year-old machine operator living in the Portland suburb of Troutdale, Oregon, isn’t even a Muslim. He is a member of the Baha’i faith who says that he left his country of origin after Iranian police confiscated books from his family’s home and arbitrarily arrested other members of his religious community.
According to the Portland Tribune, Afshar came back to his two-story home after a brief trip to Canada to find that it had been ransacked and that the intruders had painted racist slogans all over the walls, cabinets, and appliances.
The graffiti labeled Afshar a terrorist and urged the “Muslim” to get out.
The perpetrators left a note pinned to his coffee table with a series of bullets in the shape of a cross that said:
“If I see you here next month, I will shoot you and burn your house.”
Local police are investigating the incident as a bias crime which may have links to another recent incident when Afshar was stopped outside a supermarket by a man in a white construction van who shouted at him:
“Get the (expletive) out of America! We don’t want you here.”
Afshar thinks that the man may have followed him home to learn where he lived. While Afshar is now faced with a massive cleanup job, he praises his neighbors for helping him out when he discovered the vandalism, and remains resolute.
“I can sit here and cry and nothing (is) going to be fixed,” he says. “I have to be strong and just repair my house again.”
Nonetheless, the incident has soured the Iranian refugee on living in the United States. He now plans on selling his home and moving to Canada or Australia where he has friends once he finishes the cleanup.
Unless these newly Trump-emboldened domestic hate-mongers are caught and prosecuted soon, it’s hard to blame Afshar for wanting to find a more hospitable place to call home.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.