NHP Muslim woman arrested for allegedly false story of attack on train

NHP Muslim woman arrested for allegedly false story of attack on train

The New Hyde Park woman who told police she was attacked for being Muslim by three white Donald Trump supporters allegedly admitted to police Wednesday that her account was a lie.

Yasmin Seweid, 18, was charged Dec. 14 with filing a false police report after recanting her story about the men trying to rip her religious headscarf off her head and calling her a terrorist while invoking the Republican president-elect’s name, according to multiple news reports.

Seweid, a Baruch College student, appeared in court Wednesday with her father, Sayeed Seweid, the New York Daily News reported. She faces up to a year in jail.

Unnamed NYPD sources told DNAinfo New York that officers could not find any surveillance video or witnesses corroborating Seweid’s story after investigating the alleged attack for nearly two weeks.

Police decided to charge her criminally because of the amount of resources the NYPD invested and the high-profile, politically charged nature of the case, DNAinfo reported.

Seweid originally said three drunken white men taunted her on the 23rd Street subway platform while they waited for an uptown 6 train, according to news reports and an account Seweid posted on Facebook.

She claimed they ripped her backpack and tried to remove her hijab, or headscarf, while onlookers did nothing to help until she got off the train at Grand Central Station.

Seweid was reported missing Dec. 7 after she left home for a relative’s house without telling her parents. She was found safe about three days later.

Police released descriptions of Seweid’s alleged attackers and thought they saw one of them on a surveillance video following Seweid off the train.

An unnamned police source told the Daily News that Seweid allegedly made up the story because she had broken a curfew her parents had set.

Abdul Aziz Bhuyian, president of the Hillside Islamic Center, the New Hyde Park mosque Seweid’s family regularly attends, said he could not speak to the family’s dynamics, but said they just want to be out of the spotlight in this trying time.

“They need help,” Bhuyian said. “The family right now, they want to be left alone.”

In a since-deleted Facebook post, Sara Seweid, Yasmin’s sister, criticized the NYPD’s handling of the investigation and said the constant media attention made things much worse for her family by camping outside their home and publishing false and fabricated information.

Yasmin Seweid “has dealt with an insurmountable amount of trauma both publicly and privately” since she first made the report, her sister wrote.

“I’m deeply concerned about the mental state of young Muslim women who feel that they have to lie so intensely to survive,” Sara Seweid wrote, according to a screencap of her post. “I know this isn’t the first time something like this happens so I really think people who are so concerned about how Muslims will be perceived in the media or how future hate crimes will be dealt with need to take a step back and think why muslim woc [women of color] have felt the need to do this.”

Seweid’s report of the attack came amid an uptick in reported hate crimes in New York City following Trump’s election to the presidency in November.

While police have said hate crimes are down in Nassau County, racist and anti-Semitic graffiti has been found in Mineola, Port Washington and on the Nassau Community College campus in Garden City.

Seweid’s alleged fabrication is disappointing if true, Bhuyian said, but “should not distract us from paying attention to all the other crimes happening against minorities.”

He again called on Trump, who once called for an indefinite ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. and whose future administration is considering a federal registry for Muslims, to speak out against the violence perpetrated in his name and promote unity.

“We all have to careful,” Bhuyian said. “As an American, that’s our first and foremost responsibility to each other, to protect each other.”

The incidents that have been reported likely represent a fraction of those that have actually occurred, as Muslim communities are sometimes slow to report them, said Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

It is crucial that police allocate more resources to hate crime investigations and that advocates work to bridge gaps between the police and Muslim communities, Nasher said.

“The issue is whether or not America will stand up for the values and principles that we’ve always believed exist here,” she said.

By Noah Manskar

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