Following the wave of violence in Paris on Friday, which was claimed by the Islamic State, many Muslims feared they would suffer the consequences and be subjected to reprisal attacks.
These fears weren’t unfounded for a Muslim taxi driver all the way in Manhattan, New York, who claimed he was unable to pick up a fare for hours after the Paris attacks because of his religion, according to passenger Alex Malloy.
Malloy, a 23-year-old hairdresser who was raised as a Christian, moved to New York City four years ago from St Petersburg, Florida. Around 11pm Friday evening, just hours after the horrific coordinated attacks in Paris that left 132 people dead and hundreds injured, he caught a cab in Manhattan.
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He claims the driver told him he was his first passenger is two hours after the bombings left many suspicious of his religion in what he described as the “saddest moment he has experienced.”
On hearing the driver’s account of the discrimination he was facing, Malloy spent the rest of the 25-minute journey reassuring him that he was not alone and showing his support for the driver, who eventually broke down in tears.
“For 25 minutes I had to tell this stranger, this human being like you and I, that he was not a part of what was happening and how sorry I was people were looking at him with fear or anger,” said Malloy. “He kept saying ‘Allah, my god, does not believe in this. People think I'm a part of this and I'm not. Nobody wants to drive with me because they feel unsafe. I can't even do my job’.”
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Malloy later tweeted about his experience and called upon his followers to “stop generalising people.” The post has already been retweeted almost 50,000 times.
He described it as “the most heart breaking moment ever experienced in my whole life. He was such a sweet guy, around my age, he could have been older than 25.The fact this young man is feeling victimised because of extremists is so sad.”
Malloy claims he spent the rest of the journey assuring the driver, whose name he forgot, that most people did not feel that way.
“Please stop saying Muslims are the problem because they are not and they are feeling more victimised and scared by the day,” he wrote. “These are our brothers and sisters ... and they deserve nothing more than our respect and attention,” he added.
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His anti-Islamaphobia message was followed by messages of support by other social media users.
One Lisa Jackson praised Malloy for speaking up, saying, “I'm so glad it was you who got in that guy's cab last night. He needed that bit of humanity. Bless you. Seriously.”
Another user, Georgia Sims said, “Everyone, regardless of race, religion or colour needs to unite for freedom against extremism. All Humans to unite!”
Several people said the story had moved them to tears.
One Twitter user wrote, “I'm about to cry; what is wrong with the human race?”
Another, under the name Proud Muslim, added, “Glad there are people like you in this world.”
Malloy told HuffPost, “The replies were so touching and so sincere. It wasn't just the Muslim community replying, but everybody replying. Especially at a time like this, in our country and in our world ... to see people come together over something I had written and saying, 'This is so important' -- it made me cry.”
However, Malloy also received a small number of negative replies from people who said they would not have gotten in the cab. They have now been blocked.
“That put such a sick feeling in my stomach because you're disregarding another human being,” he said. “It was sad and I didn't want to see it.”
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Since 9/11, the number of hate crimes against Muslims has grown significantly, from between 20 and 30 per year, to 500. Following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this year, many Muslim-owned business and mosques reported a number of reprisal incidents. It is expected that the recent attack in Paris will result in the driver's fears being felt by the five million Muslims in France. According to the Washington Post, annual hate crimes against Muslims are now reported to be 100-150 incidents, roughly five times higher than the pre-9/11 rate.
Far-right protesters have already stormed one candlelit vigil in the north of France today, crashing the memorial event and unleashing flares and firecrackers on mourners.
The Anti-Islam demonstrators shouted “Out the Muslims” and “Throw out Islamists” as they stormed the quiet vigil in Lille.
It came after Front National leader Marine Le Pen declared French people “are no longer safe” and called for France to take back control of its borders.
French Muslim groups have firmly denounced the attack after IS claimed responsibility.
This article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.
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