The harassment began in December when the restaurant, ZaZa Bar & Bites, had its door smeared with bacon grease. A couple days later, Khan found bacon bits strewn out in front of his restaurant entrance. According to the Holy Quran, Muslims are discouraged from consuming pork. Some people have weaponized pork as a tool for anti-Muslim activism or vandalism.
The Muslim small business owner reported the incidents to the police in December, but since then, the harassment has taken a darker turn. Khan has also received threatening phone calls telling him to leave the country.
"I shut ZaZa down because of death threats towards me via phone calls," Khan Khan told the Houston Chronicle. "In the last seven weeks or so, [the] calls become worse. I did not enjoy being called 'sand nigger' or people telling me that I will die in ZaZa."
According to Houston Chronicle, some social media users accused Khan of making up the story behind the restaurant's closing. He denies claims, or victim-blaming allegations, that he is closing the restaurant because of financial issues. Khan said the restaurant is not his only source of income.
"I had seen on Facebook when ZaZa was 'baconed' last year that people down here believed that I was behind it," Khan added. "It really hurt me. There is no bankruptcy, none being filed. It's easier to blame the victim than accept we have a problem."
Khan closed ZaZa Bar & Bites at peak tourist season for Galveston.
"I opened ZaZa [as] a happy little fun project; this was supposed to [be] fun and love," Khan said. "Never did I think that people in Galveston are so closed-minded. People want me dead because of me being a Muslim. I am honestly sick to my stomach. And frankly, fearful."
Khan, who immigrated to the United States in 1993, is not the only Muslim business owner to have his restaurant attacked since the start of the 2016 election cycle. In December 2015, around the same time as the San Bernardino attack and when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump proposed "a total and complete shutdown" on Muslims entering the country, a man walked into a convenience store in Queens, New York, and punched the Muslim owner.
"I'm gonna kill Muslims," the perpetrator allegedly shouted.
On March 10, a white man in Florida mistakenly assumed the Indian owners of a convenience store was Muslim and attempted to burn their business down to the ground.