Stuart Seldowitz detained after video of Islamophobic abuse against New York halal vendor

Stuart Seldowitz detained after video of Islamophobic abuse against New York halal vendor
Stuart Seldowitz has been arrested by New York police after film of him making anti-Islamic and genocidal threats against an Egyptian street vendor went viral.
2 min read
23 November, 2023
Seldowitz constantly harrassed Mohammed Hussein at the halal food cart where he worked in New York [file photo-Anadolu/Getty]

A former senior US State Department official who was filmed making racist, anti-Palestinian, and Islamophobic comments to a halal food vendor of Egyptian origin in New York City has been arrested.

Sixty-four-year-old Stuart Seldowitz, who was previously the deputy director of the State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, was detained on Wednesday on charges of aggravated harassment, hate crime stalking, stalking causing fear, and stalking at a place of employment, according to a statement by New York police.

Seldowitz had reportedly harassed the vendor, identified as 24-year-old Mohammed Hussein, over a period of around two weeks.

"A 24-year-old male victim stated to police that an individual approached him at his work place multiple times and made anti-Islamic statements multiple times on different dates causing the victim to feel afraid and annoyed," New York police said.

In one video, viewed over 40 million times, Seldowitz made a genocidal statement, apparently referring to the death toll from Israel’s indiscriminate war on the Gaza Strip, which has killed over 14,000 people, including 5,840 children.

He told Hussein, "If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what, it wasn't enough".

Seldowitz also threatened Hussein's family in Egypt, saying that he could arrange for his father to be arrested by the mukhbarat secret police and tortured in a specific way.

He also made slurs against the Prophet Muhammed and asked if the 24-year-old vendor "raped his daughter".

In one video, a passerby tried to intervene and call out Seldowitz for his comments.

Seldowitz claimed that Hussein had expressed support for Hamas, and that he thought "there should be some comment back to someone who is endorsing terrorism and the killing of innocent civilians".

However, New York Mayor Eric Adams posted on X: "Islamophobia is hate. Plain and simple. This vile, disrespectful rhetoric has no home in our city. We reject it - and we're glad to see we're not alone."

 Hussein said he intended to sue Seldowitz.