EAGLE ROCK (CBSLA.com) — In the days after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Shahbano Nawaz has become increasingly concerned for her family’s safety and over the possible backlash she could face because she is Muslim.
“What if someone gets angry and decides to lash out? And so it does make me nervous,” Nawaz said.
And as law enforcement continues to encourage people to report suspicious behavior to prevent violent acts, Riham Osman says she sometimes feels watched.
“If I take a moment to look around, people are looking at me differently, but I don’t like to play the victim,” Osman said.
But Deputy Chief Michael Downing for LAPD’s counterterrorism unit says even though it appears the San Bernardino shootings were committed by Muslim extremists, terrorists can be anyone.
“We have to focus on what the behavior is, not what the person looks like, not what faith they have, not what nationality they have, but actually what they’re involved in doing,” Downing said.
What kind of behavior is suspicious?
“Anything that is off the baseline, that is an anamoly that appears to your senses that this doesn’t look right, it doesn’t feel right,” Downing said.
He says since the shootings, police have seen an uptick in phone calls reporting suspicious behavior. He says authorities look into everything, even if it turns out to be nothing.
Nawaz works at the Muslim Public Affairs Council and says in light of the killings, people are asking questions about her faith. She welcomes the opportunity to explain that Muslims are taught to live in peace.
“Does your religion promote violence, or what does it really say in the Koran?” she said people ask. “So, I do feel like I’m explaining myself more,” Nawaz said.
To learn how to report suspicious activity, call (877) 8-THREAT or report online at iWATCHLA.org.