An Army reservist and Iraq veteran who works as a cabdriver says a passenger he picked up early Friday at a Northern Virginia country club accused him of being a terrorist because he is Muslim, then fractured his jaw in an attack being described by Islamic activists as a hate crime.
Mohamed A. Salim says the passenger compared him to the men accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing 11 days earlier and threatened to kill him.
“Because I’m a Muslim, he treated me like a piece of trash,” Salim said. “I love this country. I didn’t deserve this.”
Ed Dahlberg of Clifton, who has been charged with misdemeanor assault, denied hitting Salim in a statement released by his attorney.
The video, which Salim took on his phone, appears to show physical contact between the men but does not capture the alleged punch that Salim said fractured his jaw, the Boston bombing reference or the threat to kill. Salim said that those happened after he stopped recording so he could call the police.
On the video, a middle-aged businessman can be heard asking Salim if he is Islamic and then asserting that most Muslims are terrorists. He says the Koran directs Muslims to kill nonbelievers and then repeatedly and loudly demands that Salim denounce the Sept. 11, 2001, attackers. When Salim asks if the passenger is threatening him, the passenger uses an obscene phrase to respond in the affirmative.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations on Monday asked Fairfax County prosecutors to designate the attack a hate crime. “The prosecutor has a clear opportunity to send a message that anti-Muslim crime will not be tolerated, ” said Gadeir Abbas, an attorney for CAIR.