New York food vendor 'feared' for his life amid Islamophobic abuse from Stuart Seldowitz

Former Barack Obama adviser engaged in Islamophobic rant in which he said the deaths of 4,000 Palestinian children in Gaza was 'not enough'

Food vendor who was harassed by Obama official fears for his life

Food vendor who was harassed by Obama official fears for his life
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The life of a 24-year-old Egyptian-American street food vendor in New York was turned upside down after he was harassed by a former US official and the videos of the incidents went viral.

Speaking to The National, Mohamed, who declined to share his last name, said former national security adviser Stuart Seldowitz had confronted him on four separate occasions beginning on November 8.

Mohamed feared the former US official might physically attack him.

Footage on social media showed Mr Seldowitz berating Mohamed over his Islamic faith and Egyptian roots. He also accused him of supporting the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

“We’re going to put big signs here saying this guy believes in Hamas,” Mr Seldowitz said.

In another exchange, he can be heard saying: “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, it wasn’t enough.”

Mohammed can be heard in all the videos asking Mr Seldowitz to leave.

The comments by Mr Seldowitz, who also served as deputy director of the State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs from 1999 to 2003, come amid a spike in anti-Arab, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic sentiment in the US amid the Israel-Gaza war.

The former also official threatened to send the food vendor's picture to the Egyptian intelligence services.

“The Mukhabarat [the intelligence agency] in Egypt will get your parents. Does your father like his fingernails? They’ll take them out one by one,” Mr Seldowitz said in one of the videos.

When asked about his decision to not report the incidents, Mohamed, who moved to the US at the age of seven with his family, explained that he was fearful of the potential backlash it could trigger.

Following the widespread attention Mr Seldowitz's actions garnered, New Yorkers came together to show their support for Mohammed.

Queues formed in Manhattan's Upper East Side neighbourhood as New Yorkers lined up to enjoy halal food from his vehicle.

Mr Seldowitz was arrested on Wednesday and charged with aggravated harassment, a hate crime and two counts of stalking. He has since been granted supervised release.

Updated: November 25, 2023, 11:33 AM