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February 21, 2024

UC Berkeley men’s basketball player confronts fan who allegedly called him a ‘terrorist’

University of California basketball player Fardaws Aimaq, whose parents are Afghan refugees, went into the stands and confronted a fan who had allegedly taunted him as a “terrorist,” the school said Wednesday.

In video widely circulated on social media, Aimaq, a 6-foot-11 forward, climbs up the bleachers before he reaches a young man — who is considerably shorter.

“Do you want to talk? Do you want to talk?” Aimaq appears to ask the young fan after the University of Texas at El Paso’s 75-72 win over the Bears in a game played in San Juan Capistrano, California.

It isn’t clear whether the young man responds, and Aimaq retreats before the confrontation can escalate.

Cal coach Mark Madsen said he has asked organizers of the SoCal Challenge tournament to have the fan banned.

“Throughout and after Monday’s game, Fardaws Aimaq was allegedly subjected to abhorrent and offensive comments from a fan — including being called a terrorist,” Madsen said in a statement the school issued early Wednesday night. “I have asked the SoCal Challenge tournament director that a formal investigation be conducted and that this fan be barred from the premises.”

While Madsen said he was “disturbed that Fardaws was allegedly on the receiving end of such language,” he said he wished Aimaq wouldn’t have confronted the fan.

“Fardaws and I had an important conversation today about how he needs to maintain his composure regardless of what takes place in a game or what is said to him directly,” said Madsen, who is in his first season at the helm in Berkeley. “Fardaws understands my expectations for how he as a student-athlete conducts himself. The consequences related to this situation will be managed internally.”

Aimaq, who was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, was back in the starting lineup Wednesday night when Cal played Tulane in the consolation game.

The 24-year-old Aimaq arrived at Berkeley after having played at Texas Tech, Mercer and for Madsen at Utah Valley.

It wasn’t immediately clear Wednesday night if the fan in the video had been identified.

“Event organizers were made aware of the issue by Cal representatives on Wednesday morning,” tournament organizers said in a statement. “Security has been briefed to strictly enforce the policy and an internal investigation is ongoing related to Monday’s events.” 

Police across the country have warned that bloodshed in the Middle East could lead to hate crimes against Jewish, Muslim, Arab and South Asian Americans.

Police in New York City said Wednesday that a former national security adviser in the Obama administration was arrested and charged with harassment and stalking after he was accused of spewing Islamophobic slurs at a street food vendor.

David K. Li

David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.

Tavleen Tarrant



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