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Lakeview Residents Make Prejudiced Arguments Against Hookah Bar

By Samantha Abernethy in News on Sep 7, 2011 9:40PM

GG Photo/
Two men who are proposing hookah bar in Lakeview met with harsh opposition from a neighborhood group that unleashed some distasteful comments during their discussion. The proposed location is in a small vacant building next door to Schubas Tavern on Belmont, and the business would not serve alcohol.

Hyperlocal news website Roscoe View Journal* was at the meeting of the South Lakeview Neighbors and wrote about some of those comments, which smack of prejudice against those of Middle Eastern descent. RVJ writes:

Then, one attendee piped up, “I’m seriously concerned for my kids. I just searched crime and hookah on my phone and I found quite a few stories about how bad these places can be.” At this, the crowd immediately came alive shouting alternately angry disapprovals and applause for the questioner. One person asked why a business that stays open late and attracts mainly Middle Easterners should be invited, when the patrons would just, “end up roaming around the neighborhood late at night.”

The meeting had seemed to quiet down when another attendee posited, “After we’ve killed a few hundred thousand over in Iraq, why should we care if a few Iraqis shoot up our neighborhood?”

The group voted against the proposal, but the neighborhood group's vote doesn't exactly change how the city will handle the business's application for a special use permit. Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) sent the issue to the group for community input before moving forward.

On top of being offensive, the comments were also inaccurate. Neither of the men who are trying to start the business are of Iraqi descent, and both are native Chicagoans. Also, they say research has found that only about 10 percent of hookah smokers in the U.S. are Muslim.

*Full disclosure: I used to work for S.A.