Muslim Stanford student injured in hit-and-run sparks hate crime investigation

By | November 6, 2023

While authorities announced that they had opened a hate crime investigation following a hit-and-run that allegedly injured an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University, the student on Sunday called on the population to “collectively denounce the hatred, intolerance and violence” in this context. increased reports of hate crimes against Arabs, Jews and Muslims in the USA.

A black SUV struck Stanford student Abdulwahab Omira on the campus in Palo Alto, California, before 2 p.m. Friday, according to university officials. The driver of a Toyota 4Runner allegedly made eye contact with the victim, accelerated toward him and struck him, then yelled “f— you and your people” as he drove off, according to a Department of Transportation press release. Stanford Public Safety. . Omira described the driver as a white man in his 20s, university officials said.

Omira was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the university said. One of his friends said KTVUa Fox affiliate in the Bay Area, that Omira had lost some feeling in his left leg.

The California Highway Patrol, which responded to the hit-and-run, said in a statement that its “preliminary information and determination that the incident was a hate crime” led the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office to open a hate crime investigation. to explore the incident further. Agencies have not announced any arrests or released the name of a suspect. They did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday morning.

Omira, who his friends identified to local media as a Syrian refugee, issued a statement Sunday through a student group that has been staging sit-ins at Stanford to protest Israel’s actions in Gaza during the war with Hamas.

“As I lie in my hospital bed, grappling with a reality I never imagined, I reflect on the importance of spreading love, kindness and compassion in a world that seems to be gradually succumbing to hatred and prejudice,” Omira said. “This ordeal has strengthened my resolve to advocate for love, understanding and inclusiveness. »

Omira described the driver as having short, dirty blonde hair, a short beard, and wearing a gray shirt and round-rimmed glasses. The student said the driver “has previously shown animosity toward my community.”

“Her hateful cries of ‘f… you and your people’ still ring in my ears as I grapple with the physical and emotional pain this incident left in its wake,” he said.

Omira, who is listed on his student profile as an undergraduate computer science major, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Stanford leaders condemned the incident, saying they were “deeply troubled to hear this report of potentially hate-based physical violence on our campus.”

“Violence on our campus is unacceptable,” Stanford President Richard Saller and Dean Jenny Martinez said in a statement. joint statement Friday. “Hate-based violence is morally wrong and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms. We wish to express our deep concern for the student who was injured and for everyone affected by this incident.

This is the last incident to occur takes place on an American university campus during the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Public tensions between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protesters have been shaken Harvard University and Columbia University in recent weeks.

Most recently, Cornell University canceled classes last week after anti-Semites and death threats were made to Jewish students. Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old Cornell student, was stopped last week and accused of posting an online message regarding the shooting in a building frequented by Jewish students. Dai, who was accused of threatening to kill or harm others using interstate communications, threatened to “bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you Jewish pigs,” said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York in a statement. Press release.

Cornell student accused of making death threats against Jewish community

Even before the war between Israel and Gaza began last monthhate crimes in the United States – including crimes against Jews and Muslims – have been rising. Federal officials have not yet released data showing how many threats or incidents have been reported since Hamas first attacked Israeli civilians and military installations on October 7, triggering a massive and ongoing Israeli response .

But reports of specific incidents and early data from nongovernmental experts who study hate crimes suggest the rise is significant, including an Oct. 14 incident in which an Illinois man is accused of fatally stabbing 6-year-old Palestinian American boy and injuring his mother in an apartment they rented from him. The 71-year-old suspect pleaded not guilty to murder and hate crime charges.

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While the Stanford Department of Public Safety issued two alerts Friday and Saturday regarding the hit-and-run, Omira said the school’s response was slow and inadequate.

“The hours following the incident were terribly silent from the institution I trusted to be my protection,” Omira said. “It took a multitude of emails and a plea for recognition to elicit a personal response from the administration. »

Stanford spokesperson Dee Mostofi said that as soon as campus officials had enough details, the university informed the campus community of what happened.

Authorities and university officials are urging any witnesses and anyone with information about the driver to come forward. The driver fled in a black Toyota 4Runner described as being a 2015 model year or newer, officials said. The vehicle also had an exposed tire mounted on the rear, according to officials.

Yousef AbuHashem, who arrived from Gaza two years ago to study at Stanford, visited Omira in the hospital, according to KTVU. AbuHashem said Saturday that he raised his security concerns with the provost two weeks ago.

“Are you waiting until someone is hit or killed to say something? the student told KTVU.

Omira is a robotics and physics researcher interested in AI and advanced power generation systems, according to his profile at Stanford. His profile states that he has “four patents in nuclear waste processing, disposal and solar energy systems, with projects in development in medical and commercial robotic applications.”

Despite the hit-and-run, Omira said he hopes people can stop the increasing hatred and violence.

“I implore everyone reading this: let us collectively denounce hatred, intolerance and violence. Let us take the time to understand each other, celebrate our diversity and stand united against the forces that seek to divide us,” he said. “There is immense power in love and understanding, enough to eclipse the darkness of hatred.”

Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett contributed to this report.

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