Adding to the long list of hate crimes committed against Muslims in the United States this year, a Brookings Institution research assistant was allegedly attacked by an unidentified man near a train station in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
As BuzzFeed reports, Rashid Dar was on his way to deliver a sermon at a local church his mosque rents out for Friday prayers when the incident took place. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured, but his collarbone was hurt.
The 27-year-old, dressed in traditional Islamic garb — a black overcoat that he bought from Turkey along with a black hat — was walking to a cafe near Dupont Circle Metro station with his brother when a man suddenly approached him and punched him in the throat for no reason at all.
The blow landed on Dar’s collarbone.
“He dropped his bag, he wound up and punched me straight in the… I’m sure he was aiming for my throat, but he hit my collarbone,” he recalled.
Dar said his brother began yelling at the assailant, who probably would have attacked again if it weren’t for people on the street noticing the commotion.
“A couple of guys in the street had seen what happened and tried to break it up,” Dar explained. “Then, in all that ruckus, he took the opportunity to run.”
The victim then went inside the café and tweeted his story to the local police.
Dar believes he was attacked because of his appearance.
“I think a lot of Muslim men can sneak under the radar,” he said, noting that he only wears religious clothes on Friday over his regular work attire. “My wife wears a scarf. I always wanted to wear hats and grow my beard out if only in solidarity with women who bear the scrutiny most of the time.”
The victim described the attacker as an African-American male in his 20s or 30s. He was wearing a gray baseball cap and dark clothing at the time.
“I’m not so concerned about bringing this specific perpetrator to justice,” Dar continued. “I’m more concerned about the permissive environment that made this person feel, in his mind, that it was OK to punch a Muslim person.”
He added, “I’m not ashamed of being a Muslim….Now that this attack has happened, I’m not going to change anything about how I go about my day. I don’t want that to be a result of what comes out of this.”
Although Dar claims this is the first time he has been harassed in D.C., the recent upward tick in hate crimes against Muslims is extremely disturbing. According to a new report by researchers at California State University, San Bernardino, the past year has been the worst for American Muslims than any other since 2001. This year doesn’t seem any better either.
“Given the unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, we're concerned about a possible bias motive,” said Ibrahim Hooper, the communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We don't know what the motive is now, but we're looking into it. The fact that he was dressed in quote 'Islamic attire' is one of the things, just as headscarves seem to be.”
Meanwhile, Dar still managed to make it to the church and deliver his sermon.
“I went on to give a fine sermon, if I do say so myself,” he recalled. “I made a joke about how I came here to give a sermon to you about the fundamentally merciful nature of God and he sent someone to punch me in the throat on the way here.”