Hate Crime Hysteria. A “victim” of a high-profile anti-Muslim incident recants, embarrassing New York politicians who bought her story whole-cloth. By Seth Barron
Since Election Day, New York City officials have spoken regularly and emphatically about a rise in hate crimes, particularly those directed at Muslims. Gotham’s political leadership sees an obvious connection between Donald Trump’s victory and an uptick in hateful incidents. Mayor Bill de Blasio asserts that the rise “is documented . . . . It’s generated by the rhetoric that was used in the election. It’s not a surprise.” He also said, just a few days after the election, “some people now, unfortunately, take a signal from Donald Trump’s rhetoric that it’s open season against all the different kinds of people that Trump insulted and denigrated in his campaign.”
The mayor’s racial-hate narrative took an unexpected turn this week when one “victim” confessed that her story was entirely false. Yasmin Seweid, an 18-year-old Muslim woman, had told the police that she was accosted on the subway by three drunk white men who screamed insults at her, tried to pull off her headscarf, chanted Trump’s name, called her a terrorist, and told her to “go back to her country.” According to Seweid, there were many people on the train who saw what happened, but no one said or did anything. “It breaks my heart that so many individuals chose to be bystanders while watching me get harassed verbally and physically by these disgusting pigs,” she wrote on Facebook.
This last detail—that subway passengers in lower Manhattan ignored a young woman being violently assaulted—inspired visceral reactions among credulous New Yorkers who were primed to believe that Donald Trump’s victory had unleashed a flood of violent hate. City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito tweeted, “DESPICABLE! #StandUpNYC!! No more silence. No more hate.” A number of demonstrators from a Brooklyn synagogue stood in the middle of Grand Central Terminal and unfurled a banner reading “#NotInOurCity,” which turned out to be literally true, as the attack had in fact not happened in their city, or any city. Seweid has admitted that she made up the story as a way to keep her strict father from learning that she was out drinking with a Christian boyfriend. She has been arrested for filing a false police report.