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Open Letter Regarding the Tragic Death of Shakeel Khan, 30 March, 2019, in Johnson City

Members of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies are deeply saddened by the recent killing of Shakeel Khan. Mr. Khan, owner of Halal Bites in Johnson City, was shot by a masked gunman on the evening of Saturday, 30 March, 2019. We, like others, are grappling with the senselessness of an act that, to many, suggests the sort of hate crime that we hear about too often in the news. We do not, of course, yet know all the facts, and it is our hope that the authorities bring those to light with every means at their disposal. But the impact that this killing has had on students, colleagues, members of the Muslim and Desi communities, and others needs to be acknowledged. That is, in fact, the chief purpose of this statement.

There are so many feelings that a tragedy like this summons. First and foremost, our hearts go out to Mr. Khan’s wife, children, friends, indeed, all who knew Mr. Khan and who appreciate everything that he did for his community. We as a Department also wish to highlight what Mr. Khan meant to students and faculty. His restaurant is less than a mile from the Pharmacy and Nursing Schools in Johnson City. The neighborhood is home, or home away from home, to many members of the Muslim and Desi communities, both students and non-students. As a page set up in Mr. Khan's memory states, "People loved coming to his restaurant to talk to him and meet with him." It is, in other words, as if the killing happened on campus, and Mr Khan’s death has left many students and community members  feeling not just saddened but concerned for their safety. Please know that we are sympathetic to these concerns, and it is our hope that all will be done, both investigatively and otherwise, to address them.

We also want to encourage and invite you to come and talk to any one of us if you feel that you or someone you know is or may be a target of bias, bigotry, or racism in word or deed. Please be assured that we will listen with empathy. If you wish to keep what you share in confidence, we will respect that wish.

Last Updated: 4/25/19