US police in Pittsburgh have arrested and charged a 26-year-old man with shooting a Muslim cab driver in the back in the early hours of Thanksgiving, officials said on Thursday.
Muslim activists allege the shooting was a hate crime, but police told AFP those charges were still under investigation. Anthony Mohamed, 26, from Hazelwood, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania, is charged with aggravated assault, criminal attempt homicide and recklessly endangering another person, police said.
The victim was identified by a local newspaper as a 38-year-old Moroccan immigrant. His name has not been released and officials say he wishes to remain anonymous for fear of safety. The driver told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the passenger asked whether he was from Pakistan and then talked about the extremist Islamic State group killing people.
Police said Mohamed got into the taxi outside a casino at 1:13 am (0613 GMT) on November 26. He allegedly asked the driver to wait so he could get money to pay the fare, but returned a few minutes later with a rifle.
As the victim drove off, he was shot in the back by a bullet that blew out the taxi’s rear window, police said. He was taken to hospital in a stable condition. Since the Paris attacks on November 13, activists have warned against an unprecedented anti-Muslim backlash in America, fueled by right-wing intolerance in the presidential campaign.