x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

US taxi driver pursues charges after anti-Muslim rant

Virginia woman unleashes a string of expletives and calls the police emergency dispatcher to report that she fears for her life because her cabbie, Abdikar Aden of Alexandria, Virginia, is "very Muslim".

McLEAN, Virginia // For the second time in as many months, a Muslim civil rights group is pursuing criminal charges on behalf of a taxicab driver who was subjected to an anti-Islamic rant caught on tape.

In the most recent case, an Ashburn, Virginia, woman unleashed a string of expletives and called the police emergency dispatcher to report that she was afraid for her life because she said her driver, Abdikar Aden of Alexandria, Virginia, was "very Muslim".

Mr Aden says the woman also poked him repeatedly in the back of his shoulder, though that part of the confrontation was not captured by the recording.

The Council on American Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group which is representing Mr Aden, wrote to Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond Morrogh on Tuesday asking his office to prosecute the case.

"The assault is made even more deplorable because it was based on Mr Aden's faith alone," wrote CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas, saying Mr Morrogh's office "can send the message that bigoted acts of violence have no place in Fairfax County".

Mr Abbas believes the case should be prosecuted as a hate crime.

The woman, identified in a police report as Jennifer Crabbe, did not return multiple phone calls this week, and no one answered when a reporter knocked on her door on Monday. In a police report, Ms Crabbe and her companion deny that she ever struck Mr Aden. The police report states that Mr Aden was paid his US$50 (Dh183.60) fare after he pulled over, and another taxi was called to take Ms Crabbe and her companion the rest of the way.

Last month, CAIR intervened on behalf of another Muslim cabbie who also recorded an obscenity-laced tirade prompted by his passenger's suspicion about Islam. In that case, the passenger allegedly broke the driver's jaw and has been charged with assault, with a trial scheduled for August.

Mr Aden acknowledged that he did not suffer any real physical harm from the confrontation in his taxi, but said the woman's actions should not be allowed to stand unopposed.

"If anybody hit you, you have the right to defend yourself. Some people might use their hands. Some people might use the book. I'm going to go by the book," said Mr Aden, a Somali native who came to the United States in 1995 and has been a naturalised citizen for more than a decade. "I'm the victim, and I need help from the people, and I need help from the government to get justice."

During the ride, Mr Aden said, the woman assumed that he was a Muslim and said that all Muslims come to the US and serve as taxi drivers for a year to save money so they can blow themselves up.

Mr Aden said that when Ms Crabbe started poking him in the shoulder and threatened to have him deported, he pulled over to the side of the road and called police. Ms Crabbe then decided to call police herself, and that is when Mr Aden recorded her diatribe. Ms Crabbe says the word "Muslim" 10 times on the four-minute recording, telling a dispatcher, "Oh, he is Muslim, so I'm a little afraid," then describing him as "very Muslim" and later saying, "I have some Muslim guy, which I am very scared, who is our taxi driver, who's pulled over, and I'm afraid." Interspersed are multiple obscenities directed at Mr Aden.

Mr Aden has been shaken by the confrontation. He stopped working nights, fearful that a hateful confrontation could turn violent.