For the second time in as many months, a Muslim civil rights group is pursuing criminal charges on behalf of a taxicab driver who was subjected to an anti-Islamic rant caught on tape.
In the most recent case, an Ashburn, Va., woman unleashed a string of expletives and called 911 to report that she was afraid for her life because she said her cabbie, Abdikar Aden of Alexandria, was "very Muslim."
Aden says the woman also poked him repeatedly in the back of his shoulder, though that part of the confrontation was not captured in a recording provided to The Associated Press.
The Council on American Islamic Relations, which is representing Aden, wrote Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond Morrogh on Tuesday asking his office to prosecute the case.
"(T)he assault is made even more deplorable because it was based on Mr. Aden's faith alone," wrote CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas, saying Morrogh's office "can send the message that bigoted acts of violence have no place in Fairfax County."
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Morrogh told News4's Jim Rosenfield he has written to Abbas to advise him that Aden can go to the magistrate and try to obtain a warrant if he wants to pursue hate crime charges.
The woman did not return multiple phone calls this week, and no one answered when a reporter knocked on her door Monday. In a police report, the woman and her companion deny that she ever struck Aden. The police report states that Aden was paid his $50 fare after he pulled over, and another cab was called to take the woman and her companion the rest of the way.
Morrogh did not immediately respond to a phone message left Tuesday afternoon.
Last month, CAIR intervened on behalf of another Muslim cabbie who also recorded an obscenity-laced tirade prompted by his passenger's suspicion about Islam. In that case, the passenger allegedly broke the driver's jaw and has been charged with assault, with a trial scheduled for August.
Aden acknowledged that he did not suffer any real physical harm from the confrontation in his cab, but said the woman's actions should not be allowed to stand unopposed.
"If anybody hit you, you have the right to defend yourself. Some people might use their hands. Some people might use the book. I'm going to go by the book," said Aden, a Somali native who came to the United States in 1995 and has been a naturalized citizen for more than a decade. "I'm the victim, and I need help from the people, and I need help from the government to get justice."
Aden said he was called to The Capital Grille steakhouse in Tysons Corner in the late-night hours on April 23 to pick up two passengers headed to Ashburn, about 20 miles away. He said the female passenger was angry from the start because a $17 fare had already accumulated while Aden says he waited for 50 minutes for his passengers to come out. But Aden said that both a restaurant employee and the woman's male companion had asked him to stay and keep the meter running while they concluded their evening in the restaurant.
According to Aden, the woman was also belligerent about the route to Ashburn, insisting that Aden take the Dulles Airport Access Highway even though the toll-free road is reserved for traffic only to Dulles International Airport.
During the ride, Aden said, the woman assumed that he was a Muslim and said that all Muslims come to the U.S. and serve as taxi drivers for a year to save money so they can blow themselves up.
Aden said that when the woman started poking him in the shoulder and threatened to have him deported, he pulled over to the side of the road and called 911.
After Aden called 911, the woman decided to call 911 herself, and that is when Aden recorded the woman's diatribe. The woman says the word "Muslim" 10 times on the four-minute recording, telling a dispatcher, "Oh, he is Muslim, so I'm a little afraid," then describing him as "very Muslim" and later saying, "I have some Muslim guy, which I am very scared, who is our taxi driver, who's pulled over, and I'm afraid." Interspersed are multiple obscenities directed at Aden, including more than a dozen uses of the F-word, according to the recording.
All the while, the woman's companion tries to calm her down, telling her that Aden is "a good guy."
"This guy's Muslim. Are you kidding me? Muslim. He's not a good guy," she says to her companion.
The recording concludes as police are about to arrive, with the woman continuing to use expletives while berating the driver.
"Do you really feel that way?" her companion asks.
"Yeah, I really feel that way," she replies.
Aden was shaken by the confrontation. He stopped working nights, fearful that a hateful confrontation could turn violent.
Abbas believes the case should be prosecuted as a hate crime.
"Anti-Muslim violence is something we've seen in the past," Abbas said. "We have an opportunity now to send a clear message that assault against Muslims will not be tolerated."