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Suspicious Envelope At South Bay Offices Of Muslim Group Prompts Evacuations

SANTA CLARA (CBS SF) -- The South Bay offices of a national Muslim group has been evacuated after the discovery of a suspicious substance received in the mail Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Santa Clara office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said a hazmat team was at the location after workers found an envelope containing a white, powdery substance.

Executive Director Zahra Billoo said the envelope was labeled with the word "infidel," a term commonly used to antagonize Muslims.

The incident comes on the same day CAIR's headquarters in Washington, D.C. was evacuated after receiving a similar suspicious envelope containing a white powder.

Tests at the scene indicated the substance was not dangerous and after a couple of hours CAIR employees were allowed back into their offices.

Billoo said she expected a similar outcome at the offices in Santa Clara. She also said given the anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. these days, they decided to err on the side of caution and evacuate the building.

Billoo added CAIR's Bay Area chapter has seen a drastic uptick in anti-Muslim hate calls and reports from people in the community. Earlier this week, a Department of Corrections employee was captured on tape berating and attacking Muslim men who were praying in a Castro Valley park.


Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.

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