An Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was hospitalized after being struck in a hit-and-run that authorities are investigating as a hate crime, amid rising threats against Arab and Muslim people across the US.
The student, Abdulwahab Omira, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries after being struck by an SUV. “The driver is reported to have made eye contact with the victim, accelerated and struck the victim and then driven away while shouting ‘fuck you and your people’ out the lowered window of the vehicle,” according to the university’s department of public safety.
Omira called on others to “collectively denounce hatred, bigotry, and violence”, while also denouncing a slow response from the university.
“As I lay in my hospital bed, grappling with a reality I had never imagined, I reflect on the importance of spreading love, kindness and compassion in a world that seems to be steadily succumbing to hatred and prejudice,” he said.
He said the university’s “belated response came six hours later”, and said that it took “a multitude of emails and a cry for acknowledgement” before the administration responded personally, in a statement first shared by NBC News.
In a joint statement, Stanford’s president, Richard Saller, and the provost, Jenny Martinez, said: “Violence on our campus is unacceptable. Hate-based violence is morally reprehensible, and we condemn it in the strongest terms. We want to express our deep concern for the student who was injured, and for all affected by this incident.”
The hit-and-run comes amidst a rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism since the breakout of the Israel-Gaza conflict. Hamas fighters attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing more than 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages. Israel’s bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza since then has killed more than 10,000 people in the territory.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said that it received 774 requests for help and reports of bias from Muslims across the US between 7 October and 24 October, a sharp escalation from just 63 intakes in August.
Meanwhile, universities have also been on alert amid rising antisemitism. Last week, a Jewish student center at Cornell University was under guard after several online threats were made against students. The FBI found that in 2022, anti-Jewish hate crimes were the second most common.
At Stanford, students and alumni have been calling on the administration to respond more diligently to threats. Neither the public safety statement nor the email from Saller “addresses this incident as an Islamophobic and anti-Arab hate crime”, the Muslim Student Union wrote in a statement. “This language is imperative due to the recent rise in Islamophobic violence across the country and the series of additional incidents of harassment on our campus towards Muslim, Arab, and pro-Palestine students in the past few weeks.”
The attack on campus is not the first time that Arab, Muslim and Palestinian community members have been targeted, according to the Stanford MSU.
The Stanford Muslim Mental Health and Islamic Psychology lab has also called on the university to address the crime “with the full attention and resources it deserves”, and for the university and academic community broadly to explicitly condemn such crimes.