Negative campaign sign uses Arabic to smear candidate - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Negative campaign sign uses Arabic to smear candidate

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By News 8's Craig McKee

SANTEE (CBS 8) - Campaign season is in full swing and with it campaign signs with a twist in Santee.

"It was way up here and it was stuck up on the side and it was sticking out," explains Santee resident Jimmy Greene.

Jimmy Greene sees a lot of signs in his neighborhood, after all it's the campaign for Santee City Council, but what he saw on the utility pole outside his home this week caught his eye.

"It looked absolutely racist and it was very offensive to me," Greene said.

It looks like a campaign sign, complete with the candidates last name, Kalasho, but adds the words 'The Arab Leader Santee Needs.'  Green reported the sign directly to Candidate Kalasho.

"When he called me before he came over he said the funny thing is I'm Polish," Greene said.

"Of course it's not acceptable," said Imam Taha Hassane, the religious director of the Islamic Center of San Diego.  He helped decipher the Arabic writing on the sign, "This word al-qaraf in the Arabic language means disgusting, nasty."

The signs are posted among other campaign signs and only recently popped up.

"That's the first I've seen it and I was up doing signs yesterday," said Council Candidate Janet Enright.

She doesn't think any of the candidates would be dumb enough to use an Arabic messaged sign to try and derail another candidate and disagrees completely with the tactic.

"I think it's awful it's appalling," she said.

Imam Hassane adds it's immoral that someone would use Arabic in a slanting manner towards anyone and in doing so propagates fear.

"Such things just create more controversy in our society in a time we are trying to clarify misconceptions and stereotypes," Hassane said.

News 8 spoke to Candidate Ben Kalasho on the phone Thursday night, but he said he wasn't ready to talk yet and would get with his campaign manager before agreeing to talk to the media.

Meanwhile, Imam Hassane says the Mayor of Santee received concerned messages by email and phone last week - just before Hassane was to give the invocation at a city council meeting.

As a result of those messages, he tells News 8 Sheriff's Deputies were also at the meeting as a precaution.

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