NYPD: Muslim teenager who reported harassment by Trump supporters made the story up

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Yasmin Seweid.
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Yasmin Seweid/Facebook.

A Muslim teenager who reported being harassed on the New York City subway by supporters of President-elect Donald Trump fabricated the story, a New York City Police Department spokesperson told Business Insider.

Yasmin Seweid, 18, a Baruch College student, was in police custody as of Wednesday afternoon and has been charged with filing a false report, as well as obstructing governmental administration, according to the NYPD.

Seweid appeared in court on Thursday morning.

She initially reported that three white men shouting “Donald Trump” verbally accosted her on the subway around 10 p.m. on December 1 as she was leaving a Baruch College event, a local CBS affiliate reported.

“They were surrounding me from behind and they were like, ‘Oh look, it’s an f—ing terrorist,'” Seweid said, according to CBS. “I didn’t answer. They pulled my strap of the bag and it ripped, and that’s when I turned around and I was really polite and I was like, ‘Can you please leave me alone?’ And everyone was looking, no one said a thing, everyone just looked away.”

Seweid also claimed no bystanders intervened – even as the men, she said, ripped her hijab, or headscarf.

Seweid had many opportunities to tell police the truth, but stood by her story, a police source told the New York Daily News. The source also said that police had “dedicated a lot of resources” to investigating the incident.

“This isn’t something we normally like to do but she had numerous opportunities to admit nothing happened and she kept sticking by her story,” the source told the Daily News.

Seweid left her house and was reported missing by her father for days, though she later turned up safe at a friend’s house. She cited “family problems,” as the motive for making up the harassment story, sources told the Daily News.

“You try to raise your children as best you can,” Seweid’s father, Sayeed, told DNAinfo. “Maybe she was afraid that night. She was running late.”

Seweid’s older brother, Abdoul, was also charged with reporting a false incident in 2012. He claimed that a friend was assaulted by “three unknown males,” reports the Daily News.

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NYPD officers.
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Andrew Burton/Stringer/Getty Images

In a separate incident, an 18-year-old Muslim student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette reported being assaulted and robbed by two white men following Trump’s election night win. However, the student later admitted to fabricating the story, and wasn’t charged.

“Stuff like this always hurts minority communities in the end because it unfortunately taints the credibility of real hate crimes, which have been steadily rising,” Wajahat Ali, a lawyer and journalist wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday evening.

Though there has been reports of fabricated incidents, hate crimes are on the rise in New York, and around the US. There were a total of 328 reported hate crimes in New York City, according to NYPD statistics – a 31% increase over last year.

On December 4, a man in Brooklyn shouted racial slurs at a Muslim police officer and threatened to “cut her throat,” after she intervened when she spotted the man shoving his son. The man was charged with menacing as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, a police spokesman confirmed to the Daily News.

As well, the FBI recorded 257 reports of attacks on Muslim people and mosques country-wide in 2015, a 67% increase over 2014 and the highest number since 2001, when 480 attacks were recorded.

An attorney for the New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Daily News that cases such as Seweid’s should not “detract from the numerous reports coming from the Muslim community.”

“Clearly this has been a trying time for her and her family. We hope that they receive all possible support in this moving forward. We still believe that anti-Muslim attacks are underreported.”