In a series of disturbing incidents captured on video, Mohamed Hussein, a 24-year-old Egyptian Muslim food vendor in New York City, was racially abused by Stuart Seldowitz, a former high-ranking U.S. official.
Seldowitz, who served in various roles spanning five presidencies, including as a National Security Council director, was filmed making derogatory remarks, including calling Hussein a “terrorist” among a number of other Islamophobic and xenophobic remarks on multiple occasions, as seen in videos circulating on social media.
In the first video, Seldowitz mocks Hussein about his citizenship, alleging that Hussein supports Hamas, and ruthlessly states that “the death of 4,000 Palestinian children wasn’t enough,” concluding with a dismissive wave to the camera. In another incident, occurring at night, Seldowitz took pictures of Hussein and threatened to involve Egypt’s intelligence service, known colloquially in Egypt as the Mukhabarat, using his political connections.
Seldowitz also mocked Hussein for not speaking English and suggested that the latter should learn the language so he would not be deported to Egypt. Further adding to the disturbing incidents, Seldowitz was seen to be insulting the Quran as well as making provocative statements about Prophet Muhammad. Throughout these encounters, Hussein repeatedly asked Seldowitz to leave him be and emphasized that he was trying to work, while Seldowitz kept on harassing him.
The incidents have prompted a number of reactions, leading to Seldowitz’s termination from lobbying firm Gotham Government Relations, where he held an honorary position as ‘Foreign Affairs Chair’. Seldowitz then admitted to being the person in the videos, after a spokesperson for the NYPD confirmed to The Independent that he was taken into custody on Wednesday on charges including aggravated harassment, hate crime, and stalking.
New York Mayor Eric Adams condemned the Islamophobic remarks, stating, “Islamophobia is hate. Plain and simple. This vile, disrespectful rhetoric has no home in our city.” Many New Yorkers have expressed support for Mohamed Hussein, and plans for legal action against Seldowitz are underway.
These incidents highlights the escalating Islamophobic and anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States, exacerbated by the recent war on Gaza. On 16 October, Joseph Czuba, 71 brutally stabbed six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume to death because he was Muslim, and seriously wounded his mother in Plainfield, Illinois.