Who expected this to happen?
Stuart Seldowitz, a former official in the Obama administration, entered a not guilty plea on Thursday in response to hate crime and stalking charges, as per court records. He stands accused of verbally harassing a New York City food cart operator with racist and Islamophobic language. Seldowitz, who had previously served in the State Department and as a national security adviser under President Obama, was arrested on two counts of stalking as a hate crime and an additional count of aggravated harassment.
Videos circulating on social media depict Seldowitz using Islamophobic language and making references to the Israel-Palestine conflict while confronting the food cart worker. The incidents, captured on different days, show him accusing the vendor of supporting the killing of children and making threats related to Egypt’s intelligence agency.
After his not guilty plea, Seldowitz was released, according to court records. He later apologized for his actions in an interview, expressing regret for his words during the heated moments.
The increase in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim violence and harassment is noted, particularly since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported a significant rise in incidents, with 1,283 reports of harassment and violence, marking a 216 percent increase over the previous year. CAIR attributes this surge to the Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian rhetoric used during the conflict.
Similarly, attacks and harassment against Jewish people have seen an uptick since the attack on Israel in October. New York Police Department data revealed a 214 percent increase in antisemitic attacks in October compared to the previous month.