Muslim leaders are pressing the Justice Department formally to investigate a shooting of a Pittsburgh taxi driver originally from Morocco, by a passenger who had questioned him about his ethnic background before talking abut Isis “killing people” and the prophet Mohammed.
Details of the attack were reported by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The paper interviewed the driver who had been admitted to a hospital with a non-life-threatening single bullet wound in his upper back.
The driver, whose name has not been released, described being harangued by the male passenger after hailing his cab outside a casino. The man had then asked him to wait upon arrival at his house saying his wallet was inside. But then he emerged with a rifle. The victim was shot as he tried to speed away.
The case has been seized on by CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as further evidence of renewed victimisation of Muslims in America, saying what happened was “similar to a growing number of attacks targeting the nation’s Muslim community following the recent terror attacks in Paris”. The group added that anti-Muslim sentiment has been stirred by some Republican presidential hopefuls.
Earlier this month, an Uber driver from North Carolina was attacked by a man who assumed he was Muslim.
According to the driver, the verbal exchange began late on Thanksgiving Night with the passenger asking if he was a “Pakistani guy”, and also including his mocking the prophet Mohamed.
“You seem to be like a Pakistani guy. Are you from Pakistan?” was how the shooter began, the driver told the newspaper from his hospital bed.
“And I said, ‘No, I’m from Morocco. But I’m an American guy.'” The conversation switched to “ISIS killing people,” he said, and then to Mohammed.
According to CAIR, the incident fits a pattern of “Islamophobic discrimination, intimidation, threats, and violence targeting American Muslims,” a phenomenon fueled by “anti-Muslim rhetoric and falsehoods being espoused by leading Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson.”
The organisation is asking that the Justice Department treat the incident as a “hate crime”.
In the United States for five years, the driver is just months away from getting his American citizenship and has plans to bring his wife to the country and start a family with her. He insisted that his love for the country and the city he chose to live in has not been dimmed by what happened.
“This is due to the person, not the city,” he told the paper. “Pittsburgh is my style, it is like my home town [of Safi] in Morocco. My dream is to be an American. This is my country.” He added: “I am proud to say I am American, but I didn’t have the chance to say that to him.”
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