As Bashir Ahmad opened his mosque for prayers in Queens on Sunday, he was brutally attacked from behind by a man wielding a knife. “He hit me, hit me, hit me, hit me,” said Ahmad. “For like six or seven — I don’t know how many.” The assailant cursed repeatedly and yelled, “(Expletive) Muslim. I will kill Muslim.” Ahmad suffered six stab wounds in the back, slashes to his head, thumb, side, and leg, and was bitten on the nose as he fought back, causing the assailant to flee. A hospital in Queens stapled and stitched him back together.
An immigrant from Afghanistan, Ahmad is a Halal food truck vendor. Because of the slashed thumb, he won’t be serving food for awhile. Nevertheless, Ahmad isn’t angry. “He was crazy,” he said. “If somebody’s crazy, what message could you send him?” Instead, he is leaning on his faith as much as ever, not allowing the attack to affect his religion or keep him from the mosque. “I love my religion,” he told the New York Daily News. “It is my heart.”
Ahmad’s attitude of acceptance and understanding is remarkable given that New York City has had a recent rash of hate crimes targeting Middle Eastern immigrants. Since July 6th, three Middle Eastern shop-owners in Brooklyn have been shot and killed in their stores by the same gun. The last murder was just two days before the attack on Ahmad. The police fear that a serial murderer may be at work.
But for those who worship at the mosque in Queens and know Bashir Ahmad, his attitude is not a surprise. He’ll still walk there on weekends and unlock the door for prayers, undeterred by the attack. “He’s very peaceful, very humble guy,” said Asim Husain of Flushing. ”I hope they catch the guy before someone else gets hurt.”