NYC halal cart harassment case: Hate crime charges dismissed

Stuart Seldowitz
(Photo: Twitter/X)
NEW YORK - At a court appearance on Wednesday, Stuart Seldowitz, 65, a former State Department employee charged with a hate crime in November after he harassed a halal food vendor in Manhattan, was granted a deal to drop his charges.اضافة اعلان

Manhattan prosecutors said that if Seldowitz completed a 26-week anti-bias course through the organization Queens Counseling for Change (QCFC), had no new arrests, and did not violate a protective order, they would drop his charges. Seldowitz agreed, the New York Times (NYT) reported.

Seldowitz was arrested and charged with a hate crime after harassing a halal food vendor, calling him a “terrorist.” Multiple videos that went viral on social media documented him doing so on more than one occasion, returning to harass the same street vendor numerous times.

In the videos, Seldowitz can be seen taking pictures of the vendor, berating him, and telling him, “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what? It was not enough.” Seldowitz also threatened to send pictures of the vendor to “friends in immigration.”

In one clip, he calls the vendor “ignorant” and scolds him for not speaking English before continuing to make insulting and blasphemous comments about Prophet Muhammad.

Seldowitz had a decades-long government career in both Democratic and Republican administrations, including as acting director for the National Security Council’s South Asia Directorate and a post in the State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.

Afaf Nasher, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations of New York (CAIR-NY), said in a statement on Thursday that “light punishments are a slap in the face to the victims.”

“Seldowitz’s vile verbal abuse and harassment targeting an innocent street vendor were caught on video for all to see,” said Nasher. “The sweetheart deal he received from the Manhattan D.A.’s office is a shameful affront to our justice system and wholly unfitting of his actions.”

The US saw a sharp increase in Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in the past few months after October 7, 2023. The state government has recorded over 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, according to CBS News, stating that anti-Semitic incidents have more than tripled. And while the US government claims to see a spike in Islamophobia, it has not logged statistics and data similar to that of anti-Semitism.