The police in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are looking into the Thanksgiving holiday shooting of a Muslim cab driver by a passenger who had questioned him about his ethnic background before mocking Prophet Muhammad and talking about the Islamic State (ISIS) "killing people.''
The driver, a 38-year-old Moroccan immigrant, said he picked up the man about 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving outside Rivers Casino who asked to be brought to Hazelwood.
"He started the conversation and began to ask questions like, 'You seem to be like a Pakistani guy. Are you from Pakistan?'' said the driver, whose name has been withheld for security reasons.
He answered that he came from Morocco but insisted that he was "an American guy."
"Then he continued the conversation," the driver said. "He began to speak about ISIS killing people. I told him 'Actually, I'm against ISIS. I don't like them.' I even told him that they are killing innocent people. I noticed that he changed his tone and he began to satirise Muhammad, my prophet, and began to shift to his personal life. He mentioned that he has two kids and was in prison for some time."
His passenger then asked him to wait upon arrival at his house in Hazelwood, saying his wallet was inside. But then he emerged with a rifle and fired multiple gunshots at the driver as he tried to speed away.
"I waited for just five minutes, I think, and I noticed that he came out of the house carrying a rifle in his hand. I didn't hesitate. I [made] a fast decision to leave and drove my taxi away because I felt he was going to do something, there is danger he would shoot me or something. I felt like he had the intention to kill me."
The taxi driver told police he drove several blocks before pulling over and flagging down another driver to ask for help.
The driver sustained a gunshot wound on his back and was treated at a hospital, according to newspaper reports.
"In our religion, Islam, we forgive, even in such conditions," the driver told the Post-Gazette. "I learned this from our prophet Muhammad. We don't take revenge. I could forgive this, but I still want my rights."
Members of Pittsburgh's Muslim community quickly described the shooting as a ''hate crime'' and called on the Justice Department to formally investigate the incident.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said there are already growing evidence of renewed victimisation of Muslims in America since the Paris attacks.
Earlier this month, CAIR said that an Uber driver from North Carolina was attacked by a man who assumed he was Muslim, according to the Independent.
"Since the Paris attack, we've been suffering," said one woman, a member of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh who also requested anonymity. "Personally, we experience a lot of humiliation, a lot of people giving you the finger on the streets
and calling you names. But when it comes to the point of shooting, this is extreme. This has to stop."
The group lamented that the anti-Muslim sentiment has been stirred by some Republican presidential hopefuls who had espoused anti-Muslim rhetoric.
The Cranberry Taxi Service cab was equipped with a video camera but no arrests have yet been made as police are still evaluating crimes that appear to be racially motivated, the Post-Gazette said.
The Moroccan driver arrived in the U.S. five years ago with an English degree and expects to become an American citizen in three months. He hopes to become a teacher and bring his wife from Africa, the report said.