A Muslim teen was attacked while riding the subway to school in an alleged hate crime on Wednesday, New York police said.
According to NBC New York, the incident happened on a 5 train towards Union Square around 9 a.m. The suspect sat next to the 16-year-old girl and said, “You’re a terrorist, you don’t belong here,” before pulling on her hijab.
At this time no arrests have been made. Police are still searching for the suspect who reportedly ran off when another female passenger intervened to help the girl.
“I’m very sorry for her and her family and everyone in the city. We are going through a challenging time right now,” said Detective Mohamed Amen. “But I want to assure her and everyone that the police department is really looking after everyone in the city.”
The attack follows several other reports of increased Islamophobia across the U.S. including the brutal stabbing of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian American boy from the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview.
Al-Fayoume was stabbed 26 times in an attack allegedly motivated by hate for Muslims after the Hamas attack on Israel.
Burhan Carroll, of the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) in New York, said the organization has been “flooded with calls lately, requests for assistance.” The group said it is working on several first-hand accounts of Islamophobia.
“People are scared. They’re very frightened just to go about their daily business,” said Carroll.
As many hate crimes go unreported, Det. Amen urged individuals who witness or experience hate to speak up.
“Reporting your crime it’s very important so that we stop these bad people from doing this to someone else,” said Amen. “You cross the line, you break the law, it’s on you. Regardless who you are. We will not tolerate that.”
The Department of Justice defines hate crime as “a crime motivated by bias against race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.”