Wasiullah Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, sits Friday with a taxi driver who was shot by a passenger last week. The victim, who asked not to be identified, said he was shot in the back for being Muslim. PHOTO: POST-GAZETTE
A man shot a Muslim taxi driver in Pittsburgh after asking if he was Pakistani, in what local authorities are saying might be a hate crime.
The driver, a 38-year-old Moroccan immigrant who moved to the United States some five years ago, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the passenger asked him where he was from and then began to talk about the Islamic State.
“He started the conversation and began to ask questions like, ‘You seem to be like a Pakistani guy. Are you from Pakistan?’” said the driver, who spoke to the paper on the condition of anonymity owing to concerns about his safety.
The 38-year-old recalled when they arrived at the destination, the passenger climbed off the taxi and asked the driver to wait so that he could go and fetch his wallet, only to return with a rifle in his hands.
“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,” the driver added.
The shots passed through the back window of the taxi and hit the driver in his upper back. He is said to be in stable condition.
Following the incident, the council on American-Islamic Relations asked the Department of Justice to investigate the attack and treat it as part of the recent spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the aftermath of the Paris attacks.
“Because of the reported bias statements made by the alleged shooter, and because of the recent spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes nationwide in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, we urge the US Department of Justice to add its resources to the case and to help bring the perpetrator to justice,” CAIR-Pittsburgh Programme Director Alia Schindler said, according to the statement.
“Federal officials need to send a clear message that attacks on American Muslims, or on any minority group, will not be tolerated and that the perpetrators will face the full force of the law,” the statement added.
Further, Ibrahim Hooper, a CAIR spokesperson, told The Washington Post that he believes even more incidents of discrimination and intimidation are going unreported.
“When you speak with local imams and Muslim community leaders, they tell you about other incidents that they haven’t mentioned to anyone else — Muslim women being spit on, harassment in schools and random acts of violence,” he said. “We believe the spike after the attacks on Paris is even higher than people realise.”
This article originally appeared on Tribune