Editor’s Note: Yasmin Seweid, the student who said that she was accosted on a train, has reportedly recanted her story and is expected to be charged with filing a false report with the NYPD.
On Monday morning, a Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker in a hijab in addition to her uniform was followed off a subway train at Grand Central Station in Manhattan by a man who shoved her down.
“You shouldn’t be working for the city. You’re a terrorist,” he was heard to say.
On Saturday evening, an off-duty police officer who wears a hijab in and out of uniform dropped her 16-year-old son off by their hone and returned from parking the family car to see a man with a pit bull harassing and pushing him.
“Go back to your country,” the man was heard to say.
The man then turned on her.
“I’ll slit your throat, you ISIS bitch,” he said.
The man loosened his grip on the pit bull’s leash.
“Sic her!” he allegedly told the dog, which thankfully proved to have more sense than its owner.
On Thursday night, an 18-year-old college student who wears a hijab was on the subway after a Women in Business Style Your Success fashion show when three apparently drunk men began shouting, “Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump!”
The men then zeroed in on her.
“Look, a f---ing terrorist…. Get the hell out of the country!… You don’t belong here!”
They yanked her bag and the strap broke.
“Can you please leave me alone?” she asked.
They responded with laughter and followed as she tried to walk away from them. They tried to pull off her hijab.
“Take that rag off your head!”
What made it all the more nightmarish was that none of the many other people aboard the train sought to help her. Passengers looked at her and at the men and clearly understood what was happening, but then just looked away without offering so much as syllable in her defense.
“It breaks my heart that so many individuals chose to be bystanders while watching me get harassed verbally and physically by these disgusting pigs,” she posted on Facebook afterward.
The student—Yasmin Seweid—wrote of the incident itself as someone who is American born and raised: “Trump’s name was repeatedly said & it finally clicked in my head. No matter how ‘cultured’ or ‘Americanized’ I am, these people don’t see me as an American.”
She might have been speaking for all the recent hate-crime victims as she wrote, “Trump America is real and I witnessed it first hand last night! What a traumatizing night. Please stay safe everyone & never let anyone take your rights away.”
All this transpired over the course of five days in Trump’s home city. The same night that Seweid was harassed and called a terrorist by a hateful and hate-filled trio chanting “Donald Trump! Donald Trump!” the man himself was out in Cincinnati for a rally kicking off his “thank you tour.”
He continued to act as if he had not achieved victory by appealing to bigots and xenophobes as well as to the simply disaffected. He spoke of the need to find “common ground” and suggested that it was actually the government that has divided us.
“For too long, Washington has tried to put us in boxes,” he said. “They separate us by race, by age, by income, by geography, place of birth.”
The man who had called Mexicans rapists and spoken of barring all Muslims from our shores and given ear to the venom of the alt-right actually went on to say, “We spend too much time focusing on what divides us.”
“Now is the time to embrace the one thing that unites us,” he declared. “You know what that is? America! America. It’s America.”
Now that he had bullied his way to becoming the president of the United States of America, he wanted all of it united, which is to say following him.
“Because when America is unified, nothing is beyond our reach,” he went on.
He added “I mean that.”
One country, under Donald.
He returned home to a city where Seweid was terrorized. A 34-year-old off-duty police officer named Aml Elsokary was assaulted two days later, along with one of her five children.
Elsokary had proven herself a truly great American two years before, after a man ran into a Brooklyn street and flagged down the radio car in which she and Sgt. Adrian Harris were patrolling. The man said people were trapped in a fire and both cops immediately leapt out.
Just the day before, Police Officer Dennis Guerra, a 38-year-old father of four, had died from injuries suffered when he and a fellow cop had attempted a rescue in a burning building in another part of Brooklyn. Elsokary had changed her Facebook profile picture to a blue band on a field of black as a sign of mourning.
At roll call the morning after the cop’s death, Elsokary and the others in her command had been reminded of the dangers of fire. And now, later in that same tour, she found herself rushing into the very kind of peril that had claimed the life of Guerra. She cast aside any fears her five kids might end up without a mother when she heard a baby’s cries coming from the roiling smoke.
“I had to help,” she later said. “I could hear the baby crying.”
Up on the second floor, another woman faced a terrible choice. Carmen Del Rio had a 21-year-old disabled daughter in the apartment who could not evacuate on her own. But Del Rio was also tending for her year-old granddaughter, Kayleigh, who also could not escape unaided. Her son, Felipe Arroyo, the child’s father, was at work.
“Who do you save?” Arroyo, later said.
Elsokary then appeared, guided by the cries of the child she now scooped up in her arms.
“Follow me,” Elsokary told the grandmother.
In the meantime, Harris had been pounding on the doors of the building’s other apartments, making sure everybody was evacuated. Harris and Elsokary were taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation, but they had escaped serious injury.
Most importantly for all concerned, little Kayleigh Arroyo was fine. Elsokary came back at Christmas time with a gift for her.
“It was very nice,” Felipe Arroyo recalled.
Elsokary had joined the NYPD after the 9/11 attacks in part to make clear that the murder of innocents runs contrary to true Islam. She posted a somber photo of herself in uniform on Facebook at the approach of the 15th anniversary of the attack.
“Fifteen years later, we remember,” the accompanying message read.
On Saturday evening, Elsokary encountered the hater with the pit bull. She was unarmed and in the company of her son and chose to call 911 afterward rather than take immediate police action. She otherwise might have risked escalating the situation to where the pit bull might have reconsidered ignoring the man’s order.
As news of this latest hate crime spread, nobody was more disturbed than the family of the child who had been saved by Elsokary two years before. They do not have to be reminded what might have happened had the cop not braved the smoke so soon after one of her fellow officers had died doing the same.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” Felipe Arroyo told The Daily Beast.
Kayleigh is now 3 and she was busy running her toy Jeep through a car wash she had created. She needed an essential element.
“Water!” she exclaimed.
Her father got her the water, and she set to washing the Jeep and playing with her Barbie dolls.
“She’s doing good,” her father said. ”Always smiling, very adorable, very loving.”
He added, “She will hug me out of nowhere.”
He said of hate crimes such as the one against Kayliegh’s savior, “This country is made out of immigrants, you know, being united together and trying to live our lives and be better people, have a better life. “
Arroyo sounded not completely unlike Trump in Cincinnati. Only, Arroyo was speaking truth, not a big lie such as Trump is trying to perpetrate. His lie about millions of fraudulent voters got the pundits in a tizzy, but nobody seemed even to notice his lie about who had incited the hate and division.
On Sunday night, police arrested 36-year-old Christopher Nelson, who happens to be a registered Democrat, for his actions toward Elsokary and her son. He was arraigned late Monday morning on hate-crime charges that his attorney emphatically denied. Bail was set at $50,000.
That same morning, police were reporting another hate crime, this one directed against a uniformed MTA worker who wore a hijab. She suffered injures to her leg when the hater pushed her down, saying a terrorist had no business working for the city.
At least in this instance, a Good Samaritan intervened and caused her assailant to flee.
The NYPD had already scheduled a 10 a.m. press conference, where Officer Elsokary sat between Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio. She was immaculate in uniform and wore a matching dark blue hijab.
“Good morning, everyone,” O’Neill said. “I did have the opportunity to meet Officer Elsokary about—I guess it’s about two years ago after her rescue in the 9-0 Precinct. I met her in the emergency room at Woodhull Hospital where she was being treated—her and her partner were being treated for smoke inhalation.”
Elsokary now gave O’Neill even more reason to be proud to lead the NYPD.
“I became a police officer to show the positive side of a New Yorker, Muslim woman that can do this job, that is non-biased,” she said. “ I help everybody, no matter what’s your religion, what’s your faith, what you do in New York. I’m born and raised here and I’m here to protect you all and I know that my department and city is here to protect me.”
De Blasio said all the things that were right for the situation and, of course, for de Blasio. He did not need even to hint at any irony as he moved on to other matters and reported that he had sent the White House a letter seeking reimbursement for the city’s cost of protecting Trump Tower since the election.
“We will be asking for up to $35 million in reimbursement for the period November 8th to January 20,” de Blasio said.
Among the visitors to Trump Tower on Monday was Al Gore. He was initially expected to meet only with Ivanka Trump, but ended up sitting down with The Donald himself. We can hope that despite the continuing Big Lie about what stirred all the hate, some good will come from Trump’s newly adopted role in the soon-to-premiere reality show “The President.”
“I had a lengthy and very productive session with the president-elect,” Gore told reporters as he departed the tower in the afternoon. “It was a sincere search for areas of common ground.“
Common ground. Trump’s very words in Cincinnati. Talk about climate change, Al.
In the evening, Elsokary again spoke to the press. Her composure faltered toward the end and her hurt translated into tears.
Meanwhile, the student Yasmin Seweid is telling us that Trump’s America is real.
But the fault is not just in The Donald but also in ourselves. The people on that subway car who did nothing to help her disgraced the whole city.