CAIRO – An American woman has been charged with murder after pushing 46-year-old Indian immigrant to his death onto a subway train track in New York, thinking he was a Muslim.
“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare: Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, told The New York Times on Sunday, December 30.
The woman, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, he said.
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“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims,” the 31-year-old woman told the police.
She said that she has long-standing prejudices against “Muslims, Hindus and Egyptians.”
“Ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” she added.
The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu.
Standing at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside on Thursday, he was approached from behind Menendez and shoved onto the tracks.
Sen “was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Brown said.
Fleeing the scene, Menendez was arrested Saturday someone, who had seen a video released by NY police on television, spotted her on a Brooklyn street and called 911.
Attorney Brown said he had no information on the defendant’s criminal or mental history.
“It will be up to the court to determine if she is fit to stand trial,” he said.
The killer could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
The death of the Hindu man reflects a growing anti-Muslim hate atmosphere in American society.“The hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions should never be tolerated by a civilized society,” attorney Brown said.
After years of saving money, Sen had opened a small copying business on the Upper West Side this year.
Ar Suman, a Muslim, and one of three roommates who shared a small first-floor apartment with Sen in Elmhurst, said he and the Hindu man often discussed religion.
Though they were of different faiths, Sen showed a great respect for Suman’s Islamic faith.
“He was so gentle,” Suman said.
“He said in this world a lot of people are dying, killing over religious things.”
It was the second time this month a person has been killed after being shoved on to subway tracks.
On December 3, Ki-Suck Han, 58, was pushed in front of a train in Times Square.
Homeless 30-year-old Naeem Davis was charged with murder over Han’s death and was ordered to be detained without bail.
Since the 9/11 attacks on their country, US Muslims, estimated by 7-8 million, have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.
A recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California said that Islamophobia in the US is on the rise.
A US survey has revealed that the majority of Americans know very little about Muslims and their faith.
A recent Gallup poll, however, found 43 percent of Americans Nationwide admitted to feeling at least “a little” prejudice against Muslims.
Adding to the hostility were attempts by Republican lawmakers to ban the use of Islamic Shari`ah in courts.
During campaigns for the November election, Islam and Shari`ah became a central theme in electoral rallies of Republican hopefuls to get their party nomination for the ballot.