The family of Ahmad Khan Rahami sued the city of Elizabeth, New Jersey claiming that the multiple citations against their business, a fried chicken business “known for criminal activity,” were a product of discrimination against Muslims. Rahami has been named as the prime suspect in a string of bombings throughout the New York area.
Speaking to the press in front of First American Fried Chicken, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage affirmed reports that Rahami’s family had sued the city after having their round-the-clock hours curtailed. “There was lots of noise, it was open 24 hours, neighbors in this neighborhood complained,” Bollwage noted. “The city of Elizabeth could not tolerate all of the hours they were open… [the family was] disruptive in the neighborhood for many, many years,” he added.
Asked if discrimination against Muslims may have triggered neighbor complaints against the restaurant, Bollwage, who said he attended many city council meetings, adamantly rejected that possibility. “That had absolutely nothing to do with it… it had nothing to do with race, religion, or anything else,” he told reporters.
The family did allege in a lawsuit against the city, however, that Islamophobia triggered the complaints against the city. The lawsuit, uncovered by the Daily Mail, claims that neighbors yelled epithets at the family, such as “Muslims don’t belong here,” and that the police “embarked on a course to harass, humiliate, retaliate against and force their business to close at 10pm.”
In the lawsuit, police are quoted as referring to the restaurant as “known for criminal activity,” telling the owners, “there’s too much crime around here.” But the plaintiffs claimed the reputation was based on “an animus against plaintiff’s religion, creed, race and national origin.'”
The suit was dismissed as “baseless and without probably cause.”
Ahmad Khan Rahami was not a party to that lawsuit, though witnesses say he had worked at the chicken restaurant for years.