[VIDEO] Muslim cabdriver alleges assault by passenger who cited Boston Marathon bombing
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.
Muslim rights workers said Salim’s account is supported by medical records and an 11-minute, obscenity-filled video of Dahlberg’s remarks leading up to the alleged assault. Salim, a 39-year-old from Great Falls, provided The Washington Post with a copy, which his attorney described as evidence of the prejudice that others sometimes face but rarely document.
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.
“If you’re a Muslim, you’re a [expletive] jihadist,” the passenger says. “You are just as bad as the rest of them.”
The video ends with a blur of motion and audio of Salim asking, “Why are you punching me? Sir, why are you punching me?”
The passenger replies: “You’re a [expletive] Muslim.”
The insult is followed by the sound of a car door slamming. In an interview, Salim said Dahlberg left briefly but returned, struck him and ran into the woods.
Salim said he has had a headache since the incident, has lost hearing in one ear and has blurred vision. Medical records provided by Salim show that he was treated for a fractured jaw and a head injury.
Salim, a married father of four who emigrated from Somalia 15 years ago, said the incident was particularly painful because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and an Army Reserve sergeant who served in Baghdad and the U.S. military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has worked in intelligence and as a linguist, he said.
“I’m real angry,” he said. “I served my country. I fought. I sacrificed.”