ANAHEIM, CA -- The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) is calling on the Department of Justice to investigate as a hate crime an incident in which a Southern California Muslim taxi driver was assaulted after being asked about his religion.
CAIR-LA said the Muslim driver was allegedly assaulted when he arrived at a Newport Beach, Calif., cigar lounge on March 19 in response to a call for a taxi. The alleged victim reports that he was confronted by the owner of the facility when he inquired if anyone had requested a taxi. The man who identified himself as the owner allegedly told the victim, "I am a Marine officer, f**k you."
Shortly after the verbal confrontation, a woman came out of the cigar lounge and confirmed that she had requested the cab. The victim stepped out of the cab to talk to the woman. According to the victim, three men then came out of the facility and confronted him, pushing him repeatedly and asked questions such as "What's your religion?" "Where are you from?" and said "We're going to f**k you up like we f**ked up your country."
The alleged assailants reportedly followed the victim to his taxi when he returned to push the vehicle's emergency response button, which failed. Once inside his taxi, the victim had begun to call 911 when one the attackers allegedly sat in the seat behind him, placed him in a headlock and proceeded to punch him. The other two men and the owner also allegedly began punching the victim. After a few minutes, the lounge owner reportedly said, "Stop, we've f**ked him enough."
The victim sought medical treatment for facial and head injuries. Since the incident, he has missed work and reports that he is afraid to go to work.
CAIR-LA has contacted the DOJ to ensure the prompt investigation of the alleged assault as a hate crime. CAIR-LA also reported the incident as a hate crime to the Orange County Human Relations Commission and the Newport Beach Police Department, and has requested assistance for the victim from the Orange County Victims' Assistance Program.
"We ask the Department of Justice and local law enforcement to promptly investigate this disturbing incident as a hate crime and bring appropriate charges against the perpetrators," said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Manager Affad Shaikh.
Last August, a New York taxi driver was stabbed after being asked if he was a Muslim. The perpetrator was charged with attempted murder as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.