Liquor Stores Become a Flashpoint in Bay Area Muslim Community

January 28, 2006

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

On January 28, 2006 the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "Bay Area Muslim leaders Saturday condemned fellow Muslims who own liquor stores, saying they are violating a tenet of their religion and poisoning their communities. 'We are here today to say loudly we stand together to battle the evils of alcohol. There is no such thing as "drink responsibly,"' Mohammad Rajabally, president of the Islamic Society of the East Bay, told more than 100 Muslims gathered in the rain outside Oakland City Hall. 'When you have Muslims bringing (alcohol) to people ... it is shameful.' Members of the newly formed Muslims for Healthy Communities said they did not support the vandalism of two Muslim-owned West Oakland liquor stores in November by men who identified themselves as Muslims. Six men affiliated with Your Black Muslim Bakery have pleaded not guilty in the case. But the coalition members said those incidents, and the ensuing media coverage, provided an opportunity for Muslims to tackle the issue of liquor stores in poor communities, particularly those run by fellow Muslims... Members of the new group, which includes black, Arab and white Muslims from throughout the Bay Area, stopped at three liquor stores on a march from West Oakland to City Hall. The exchanges were peaceful, though a debate broke out at one store and employees at another store called police... Speakers at Saturday's event said they hope to work with city and state officials and other organizations trying to tackle the over-concentration of liquor stores in Oakland's poorest neighborhoods. They also said they want to help owners... who would like to leave the liquor business."