Muslim MTA employee, NYPD officer targeted in alleged hate crimes

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A uniformed Muslim New York City transit employee was allegedly assaulted Monday by a man who called her a “terrorist” before pushing her down a flight of stairs at a Grand Central Terminal subway station. Officials say the incident was yet another hate crime reported in the wake of a divisive presidential election.

The off-duty employee, who was not identified, injured her ankle and knee in the alleged attack, which occurred at about 6:20 a.m., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. She was transported to a local hospital for treatment.

Cuomo said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, state police and the state’s Division of Human Rights are investigating the incident.

“These acts of hate will be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and those responsible will be held accountable,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I wish a speedy recovery for the victim, and want to let her know we are seeking justice for her and for all New Yorkers.”

It was the second alleged incident of anti-Muslim violence in New York City in as many days.

On Sunday, a Brooklyn man was arrested after allegedly harassing a Muslim New York City police officer and assaulting her son the day before. Christopher Nelson, 36, was arrested and charged with menacing as a hate crime and aggravated assault in the second degree after he allegedly told the hijab-wearing officer, Aml Elsokary, to “go back to your country,” police said.

According to police, Elsokary was parking her car in Bay Ridge early Saturday evening when she saw her 16-year-old son being pushed and berated by Nelson. When Elsokary, who was off-duty, approached, Nelson called her an “ISIS [expletive]” and threatened to cut her throat.

Nelson was later identified through surveillance footage by a neighbor.

“I was born and raised here,” Elsokary said at a press conference Monday. “I’m here to protect our city, and I know our city is here to protect me.”

“I was sick to my stomach when I heard one of our officers was subjected to threats and taunting simply because of her faith,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “She is an example of everything we would want from our fellow citizens.”

According to the NYPD, there has been a spike in reported hate crime incidents since the election. There were 34 between Nov. 8 and Nov. 27, CBS noted, compared with just 13 during the same period last year.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, condemned the city’s recent rash of reported hate crime. The organization also called on President-elect Donald Trump, whose campaign platform contained a vow to temporarily bar all Muslims from the U.S., to denounce the attacks.

“While Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo both have publicly stated that hate has no place in New York, the number of bias-related attacks continues to climb,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR’s New York chapter, in a statement. “President-elect Trump must forcefully and repeatedly address the ugly hatred growing rampant throughout our nation. His rhetoric encouraged hate, racism and xenophobia, and innocent people are being assaulted across our country as a result.”

In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” days after the election, Trump was asked if he had a message for supporters who have reportedly been harassing Latinos and Muslims since his victory.

“I would say, ‘Don’t do it, that’s terrible,’ because I’m gonna bring this country together,” Trump replied. “I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, ‘Stop it.’ If it — if it helps — I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: ‘Stop it.’”

Story updated Dec. 15 to remove report of Yasmin Seweid, who claimed she was harassed on a subway platform. Police say she has recanted the allegation and charged her with filing a false report.

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