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Tuesday, September 18, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Violence against Muslims continues: Trip to grocery store, day at work turn ugly

Seattle Times staff reporter

Seattle police are hoping to find the three white men who attacked a Somalian Muslim woman with a knife Saturday in a West Seattle grocery parking lot, another in a string of cases of violence against local Muslims.

On Sunday, two white men threatened an East-African employee of a South Seattle home-improvement store, and someone vandalized an Iranian-owned grocery in Edmonds.

The Somalian woman was leaving the store in the 4000 block of Southwest Morgan Street about 10:30 a.m. Saturday when a car pulled up and the men repeatedly made an obscene gesture and called her names, police spokesman John Hayes said.

When the woman tried to reason with the men and pleaded to be left alone, the men got out of the car and screamed at her, saying they hated her religion and felt that all Muslims should be evicted from the U.S. One of the men pulled a 4-inch knife and cut off the bottom of the woman's dress. She wasn't injured, but she ran into the store for help. The men drove off and couldn't be found, police said.

Sunday, the East African man, an employee of Home Depot on Utah Avenue South, was pushing a train of shopping carts through the parking lot at about 4 p.m. when two white men in their 20s pulled up in an American-make sports car, police said.

Both yelled and swore at the worker, then threatened to shoot him. Although neither man mentioned religion, race or terrorism, the employee said he felt they were targeting him because of all those things.

The men drove off, and police couldn't find them.

Sunday night, vandals did minor damage to the Olympic View Deli, on Puget Drive in Edmonds, breaking some glass items and one of the nozzles of a gas pump, said one of the owners, who is Iranian and has been a local resident for more than a decade.

Last week, Puget Sound area police catalogued several similar cases and made three arrests.

A Seattle man has been charged with malicious harassment for threatening to burn down a West Seattle mosque. A Kenmore man is in jail awaiting charges for allegedly pouring gasoline on a Northgate mosque and firing a gun when employees there tried to stop him. And in SeaTac, a California man was arrested for allegedly beating up an Indian Sikh taxi driver.

Ian Ith can be reached at 206- 464-2109 or at iith@seattletimes.com.

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