San Antonio police are investigating vandalism to a local Muslim family’s vehicles as a hate crime, while the FBI also plans to look into the matter.

During a news conference at their Northwest Side home Tuesday, Said and Amel Motawea said they were alerted by a neighbor on Friday morning that their vehicles had been vandalized with a profanity and a message to leave the neighborhood.

The Motaweas, who are originally from Egypt, have lived in the United States for half their lives and have four U.S.-born children.

Flanked by supporters, neighbors and activists of the Muslim community, the Motaweas said they lived peacefully in their neighborhood for eight years.

Then, during the past week, they found someone had thrown beer bottles and eggs at their home and cars. They said they shrugged off the incidents, but became concerned when their vehicles were damaged.

On their minivan, someone wrote – with permanent marker – a profanity and a message exhorting the family to “move out da hood,” according to the police report San Antonio police officers took from the family. Another car had scratches and graffiti to the rear, and police confirm that the Motaweas have been targeted, apparently because of their religion and ethnicity.

“It is classified as a hate crime,” San Antonio police spokeswoman Sandy Gutierrez said.

“The message was clear,” Said Motawea, 51, said. “We were targeted.”

The Motaweas and Sarwat Husain, president of the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said authorities should pay more attention to hate crimes.


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