Manitoba

Winnipeg delivery driver confronts customer he says called him a terrorist during verbal attack

A Winnipeg pizza delivery driver is speaking out about racism after an encounter with a customer who he says accused him of being a Muslim terrorist.

'People should know about it … This is not the only incident,' says Sajjad Hossain, who recorded exchange

Sajjad Hossain confronted a customer he says called him a terrorist during a recent delivery. He says other drivers have had similar experiences. (CBC News)

A Winnipeg pizza delivery driver is speaking out about racism after confronting a customer who he claims called him a terrorist during a verbal attack.

Sajjad Hossain, 23 — an international student who moved to Winnipeg five years ago from Bangladesh to study accounting — works part-time at Santa Lucia Pizza as a delivery driver. He videotaped the disturbing exchange with a customer while he was dropping off an order last Friday.

As the man opened the apartment door, "he faked a punch at me," Hossain said. "He grabbed the debit machine from me like he didn't want to touch me."

Hossain said the man asked him why he was sent to deliver the food and proceeded to tell him he didn't like people from other countries.

"Then he told me, 'I hate Muslims. You guys are terrorists,'" Hossain said. "I said 'Sorry?' and he kept repeating the same thing again and again."

'A country of immigrants'

Hossain pulled out his phone to record the encounter, which lasted for several minutes, he said.

"I knew some of my colleagues was going through some situations like this," he said, adding he had been told if it happened to him, he shouldn't respond.

But Hossain said he couldn't stay silent.

"I was scared for a certain period of time, but then I realized if I didn't tell him anything that time … he's going to tell the same thing to another guy."

In the video, the man can be heard asking Hossain where he is from, if he likes Canada and telling him he "doesn't like people from other terrorist religions."

Hossain presses the customer about why he called him a terrorist — which Hossain said happened before he started recording, and is not captured on the video — and why he assumes he is Muslim.

"Because I'm brown?" Hossain asks in the recording. 
A Winnipeg pizza delivery driver is speaking out about racism after an encounter with a customer. CBC has concealed the man's face because we are unable to reach him for comment. 3:08

"No.… Beard." the man responds. "Beards are usually Muslim."

Over the course of the exchange, Hossain tells the man he is only there to deliver his food and if he doesn't like that, he will not be served next time.

"Even if I'm Muslim, did I do anything wrong to you?" Hossain said. "Canada is a country of immigrants." 

Hossain said the encounter was a first for him, and left him feeling shocked and disturbed. He has since reported the incident to his manager at Santa Lucia Pizza and the Winnipeg Police Service.​

Restaurant bans customer

The manager confirmed to CBC News he was aware of the incident and has notified the customer he will no longer be served by the restaurant. The manager said the customer didn't deny the incident.

In an email, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service said "while it is repugnant, it is not illegal in Canada to call someone a terrorist."

The service does take such reports for informational purposes but does not track these kind of incidents, the spokesperson said.

According to Statistics Canada data released last June, the number of police-reported hate crimes against Muslims in Canada jumped by 60 per cent in 2015 compared to the previous year.

Hossain said he recorded and shared the video to expose the racial discrimination he knows other drivers have experienced on the job.

"People should know about it — what's actually going on. This is not the only incident," he said.

"I'm a Muslim. I can be Hindu, I can be Sikh — before that, I'm a human being."

A Winnipeg pizza delivery driver confronts a customer who he claims called him a terrorist during a verbal attack. 2:56