Muslim activists in Pittsburgh are asking the police and FBI to investigate the Thanksgiving Day shooting of a Muslim cab driver as a hate crime (video below).
The cab driver claimed he had driven a man home on Nov. 26 from a local casino, and the passenger asked the driver questions about his heritage, which ended up with the driver being shot in the back, notes WTAE.
The driver told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from his hospital room:
"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.'
"Then he continued the conversation. He began to speak about [Islamic State group] killing people. I told him 'Actually, I’m against [Islamic State group] . I don’t like them.' I even told him that they are killing innocent people.
"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.
"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.
"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."
The driver heard some gunshots hit the back of his cab, one of which hit him in the back. After driving away, he pulled over and flagged down a car for help.
Pittsburgh police have not yet decided if the alleged shooter was motivated by the driver’s race or religion.
“All I can really say is that we evaluate all crimes that appear to be racially motivated,” FBI Greg Heeb, spokesman for the agency's Pittsburgh office, told Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, added, "Very simply, this is a hate crime and it must be treated as such. It is heartbreaking to see a horrible crime such as this committed in Pittsburgh, a city that on the surface is making attempts to be more welcoming.”