WASHINGTON DC – A young Muslim researcher was punched on the face in Washington DC on his way to deliver Friday sermon while wearing Islamic traditional attire, in an attack believed to be targeting his faith.
“It is generally my habit to wear overtly Muslim clothing on my way to Friday prayer. I’m a proud Muslim. I don’t feel the need to apologize for it,” Rashid Dar, a researcher at Brookings think-tank, told BuzzFeed.
Dar was walking along with his brother to a café near Dupont metro station when a man approached him and punched him in the throat.
“He dropped his bag, he wound up, and punched me straight in the…I’m sure he was aiming for my throat, but he hit my collarbone,” he said.
“A couple of guys in the street had seen what happened and tried to break it up,” Dar said.
“Then, in all that ruckus, he took the opportunity to run.”
His brother ran behind the attacker but he managed to flee.
The 27-year-old said he always wears Muslim attire on Fridays, and typically keeps the clothes he wears to his job as a Brookings Institution research assistant underneath.
“I think a lot of Muslim men can sneak under the radar,” he said.
“My wife wears a scarf. I always wanted to wear hats and grow my beard out if only in solidarity with women who bear the scrutiny most of the time.”
Dar reported the incident to the police and tweeted the incident.
“I’m not so concerned about bringing this specific perpetrator to justice,” he said.
“I’m more concerned about the permissive environment that made this person feel, in his mind, that it was OK to punch a Muslim person.”
Though it was difficult for him to sleep last night because of the pain on his collarbone, Dar said that he will not allow the incident to affect the way he carries himself.
“I’m not ashamed of being a Muslim,” he said.
“Now that this attack has happened, I’m not going to change anything about how I go about my day. I don’t want that to be a result of what comes out of this.”