A Pittsburgh taxi driver — a 38-year-old Muslim man from Morocco — was shot in the back on Thanksgiving and it’s just being reported by several sources.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, has called on the Justice Department to investigate the incident as a hate crime — which, it said, was “similar to a growing number of attacks targeting the nation’s Muslim community following the recent terror attacks in Paris,” The Washington Post reports.
The organization is not exaggerating. Attacks targeting American Mosques since the Paris attacks are increasing.
The driver, who moved to Pittsburgh from Morocco five years ago and wishes to remain anonymous out of fear for his safety, recalled the incident to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from his hospital bed saying, “He started the conversation and began to ask questions like, ‘You seem to be like a Pakistani guy. Are you from Pakistan?’”
“And I said, ‘No, I’m from Morocco. But I’m an American guy,” he added.
“Then he continued the conversation. He began to speak about ISIS killing people. I told him ‘Actually, I’m against ISIS. I don’t like them.’ I even told him that they are killing innocent people,” the victim said.
“I noticed that he changed his tone and he began to satirize Muhammad, my prophet, and began to shift to his personal life. He mentioned that he has two kids and was in prison for some time,” he continued.
“So it was this kind of stuff until we got to his destination. He asked me to wait for a little bit because he forgot his wallet in the house. I waited for just five minutes, I think, and I noticed that he came out of the house carrying a rifle in his hand,” he recalled. “I noticed him coming toward me. I didn’t hesitate. I [made] a fast decision to leave and drove my taxi away because I felt he was going to do something. There is danger. He would shoot me or something. I felt like he had the intention to kill me.”
As he sped away he heard a couple of gunshots, one of which blasted out the back window of his cab and struck him – he is now listed in stable condition after suffering a gunshot wound between his shoulder blades.
Pittsburgh police are still trying to determine whether the incident was motivated by the driver’s race or religion.
“Detectives are talking to a couple witnesses and they’re starting to gather information to put a timeline together,” City Councilman Corey O’Connor said. “There are all kinds of details that have to be looked into. They have to look at the evidence and any videos that may exist.”
The FBI is evaluating the incident.
“All I can really say is that we evaluate all crimes that appear to be racially motivated,” said Greg Heeb, spokesman for the bureau’s Pittsburgh branch..
“Since the Paris attack, we’ve been suffering,” said a woman who is a member of the Islamic Center and also requested anonymity. “Personally, we experience a lot of humiliation, a lot of people giving you the finger on the streets and calling you names. But when it comes to the point of shooting, this is extreme. This has to stop.”
According to the victim, the vehicle was equipped with a video recorder.
The victim has a bachelor’s degree in English. He said he’s only three months away from becoming an American citizen.
“This is a unique nation. Here in America I have achieved what I could not in Morocco. Here I learned how to drive. Here I easily get a job with health benefits. All aspects of life. Cleanliness. This is my country. I am proud to say I am American, but I didn’t have the chance to say that to him,” he said.
“In our religion, Islam, we forgive, even in such conditions,” he added. “I learned this from our prophet Muhammad. We don’t take revenge. I could forgive this, but I still want my rights.”
In fact, just last week armed protesters surrounded a mosque. Imagine if armed American Muslims surrounded a Christian church during prayer time.
Freedom of religion only applies to right wing Christians, apparently.
Image: Didier Demelin via Wikimedia.