Muslim woman pushed down NYC stairs, called "terrorist"

NEW YORK -- A New York City transit worker who is Muslim was pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal by a man who called her a terrorist, authorities said.

The assault took place on Monday morning as the victim, 45, was heading to work on the subway, CBS New York reported. The suspect followed her off the train and shoved her down the stairs, police said.

Sources told CBS New York the suspect allegedly called the victim a “terrorist” and said she shouldn’t be working in the city. She was wearing a Muslim head covering at the time of the assault, and was treated at a Manhattan hospital for ankle and knee injuries. 

Authorities say a good Samaritan intervened, and police are looking for the man who committed the crime. 

The assault marked the latest in a string of incidents in which Muslim women were seemingly attacked because of their faith. On Saturday, a man harassed and threatened an off-duty police officer who was wearing a Muslim head covering in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, authorities said.

The officer, Aml Elsokary, had encountered a man who was yelling and pushing her 16-year-old son. She tried to intervene, according to police. 

Police said the suspect, 36-year-old Christopher Nelson, said to her, “ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat, go back to your country,” CBS New York reported. 

Nelson was arrested on charges of menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment in the case, the NYPD said on Monday. He was arraigned and bail was set at $50,000.

In another incident, a young woman wearing a Muslim head covering was harassed while riding the subway on Thursday. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he has asked the MTA, State Police and Division of Human Rights to work with the NYPD to investigate Monday’s incident and other recent hate crimes in the transit system. On Saturday, swastikas were found scrawled inside a train. Last week, KKK fliers and business cards were distributed at two Long Island Rail Road stations, Cuomo’s office said. 

“The work of the Hate Crimes Task Force has never been more urgent and we will continue to crack down on this type of criminal behavior,” Cuomo said in a statement on Monday. “I wish a speedy recovery for the victim, and want to let her know we are seeking justice for her and for all New Yorkers.”

Cuomo’s statement came as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decried the alleged harassment of the Muslim officer over the weekend.

“I was sick to my stomach when I heard that one of our officers was subjected to threats and taunting simply because of her faith,” de Blasio said on Monday.

Hate crimes have been on the rise across the country, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization, which specializes in civil rights, said in mid-November there were at least 700 cases of hateful harassment or intimidation since the presidential election.