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After Islamophobic hate crime in New York City, mayor wants public to ‘keep death in perspective’

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Sen The Passport photo of 46-year-old Sunando Sen, pushed to his death because a woman thought he was Muslim (Photo: Christie M. Farriella for New York Daily News)

A horrific crime if we’ve ever seen one–and a reminder that Islamophobia affects many communities outside Muslim ones.

From the AP:

A woman who told police she shoved a man to his death off a subway platform into the path of a train because she hates Muslims and thought he was one was charged Saturday with murder as a hate crime, prosecutors said.


“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” Menendez told police, according to the district attorney’s office.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday urged residents to keep Sen’s death in perspective as he touted new historic lows in the city’s annual homicide and shooting totals.

“It’s a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York,” Bloomberg told reporters following a police academy graduation.

What kind of perspective is Bloomberg referencing? If someone said “I shoved a Jew in front of a train because I hate Jews,” would Bloomberg be touting drops in the city’s annual homicide and shooting totals? Quite an insensitive comment, at the very least.

After this news broke, Twitter was aflutter with people pointing to Pamela Geller as one culprit pushing anti-Muslim sentiment in the city. Geller’s organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, recently put up a new crop of ads that features the World Trade Center burning with a Qu’ran verse printed to the right of the towers. 

Geller’s role in promoting anti-Muslim sentiment of the sort that leads to Islamophobic hate crimes should not be in dispute. But what should also be highlighted is how New York City’s own police force has promoted anti-Muslim bigotry time and time again, from surveillance of Muslims that places the whole community under suspicion to training officers with an Islamophobic flick. 

Friend of Mondoweiss Lizzy Ratner made this point in her excellent piece on Geller in The Nation:

Though Geller and her crew are fringe elements, they are not random or spontaneous, idiopathic lesions on the healthier whole. They are, quite sadly, part of this country, outcroppings of something big and ugly that has been seeping and creeping through the body politic for years. In the decade since September 11, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry has become an entrenched feature of our political and social landscape. It lurks in the hidden corners of everyday life—in classrooms and offices and housing complexes—as well as in the ugly scenes that occasionally explode into public consciousness. In the special registration of Middle Eastern men after 9/11. In the vicious campaign against Debbie Almontaser, the American Muslim school teacher who tried to open the Arabic-language Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) and was tarred as an extremist. In the attack on the Park51 Islamic center, more commonly (if less accurately) known as the Ground Zero mosque. In the New York Police Department’s selective surveillance of Muslim communities. And that’s just New York City. All of these instances should have called on our horror and outrage, and in all too many of them, society hasn’t lived up.

This crime appears to be the latest manifestation of New York City’s Islamophobia. This time, it cost a life.

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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36 Responses

  1. on December 29, 2012, 11:44 pm

    ar and ak….
    do you see one US congressperson going after gellar or spencer …
    or any of these people..not chance in ………..

    I dont have to be a theatrical physicist to see what the heck has been going on ..regarding the zionists….in the USA for the last 100 years…

    I am willing to bet it all that not one US MSM..will make much of this….

    let me jump here though

    One day before Christmas, the Israeli embassy in Ireland posted a message on its Facebook page that said that if Jesus and Mary were alive today in Bethlehem, they would probably be lynched by local Arabs.

    • HPH on December 30, 2012, 12:16 pm

      Being a “theoretical” physicist, I’m compelled to respond to the new category of physicist, the “theatrical” physicist. At the next meeting at which we do introductions to each other, I will announce that I’m a “theatrical” physicist. Until then, I will be developing ideas for “good” descriptions of the meaning of the term.

      • Mooser on December 30, 2012, 12:48 pm

        The theatrical physicist has been a recognised specialist in the field for many years. Carl Sagan, any one? I believe Bill Nye is one, too.

      • hidflect on December 30, 2012, 11:13 pm

        You’re ignoring the elephantine media whore in the room, Michio Kaka (sic). This guy jams his Einstein-haired head into every screen shot feasible without actually being able to travel around at the speed of light. And then babbles his semi-sentient drivel.

      • Bumblebye on December 30, 2012, 1:35 pm

        HPH – theatrical physicist
        I can point you to one who undoubtedly qualifies for such a title – Professor Brian Cox! First a pop star with D:Ream, then a particle physicist, now a tv and radio presenter. I very much enjoy his comedy science radio show “The Infinite Monkey Cage” on bbcR4.

    • on December 31, 2012, 7:34 am

      good to see the reply here were about my mistake ..verse bloombergs hatred against muslims..

      the three that replied here to my mistake are no better than gellar…since they went after me and not gellar or bloomberg….

      sorry phil…have to rethink my donation

  2. DICKERSON3870 on December 30, 2012, 12:01 am

    RE: “Though Geller and her crew are fringe elements, they are not random or spontaneous, idiopathic lesions on the healthier whole. They are, quite sadly, part of this country, outcroppings of something big and ugly that has been seeping and creeping through the body politic for years.” ~ the phenomenal Lizzy Ratner

    MY COMMENT: And now the Zionists are trying to deify Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the constantly bloviating, über-pompous ass of yore who once advocated a policy of “benign neglect” for America’s (black) urban areas!

    SEE: “Hagel Is The Wrong Choice”, by Gil Troy, The Daily Beast, 12/14/12

    [EXCERPT] . . . The great Senator and American Ambassador to the U.N., Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who crossed the aisle gracefully, sought a muscular idealism in foreign policy, finding McGovern’s approach too apologetic and Kissinger’s approach too utilitarian. We must ask “how much does freedom matter to the United States today?” Moynihan preached. We must learn to recognize and confront totalitarian evil which will employ any tactic to advance particular goals, he advised. And he sought, his colleague Leonard Garment noted, “to generate excitement,” to “dramatize the ideology of the West.” That is not the skill set or track record Chuck Hagel brings—nor is that the skill set or track record John Kerry would bring to the State Department.
    The cynic in me cannot wait to watch all the Obamaniacs who pitched the President as Israel’s BFF, shoehorning the Hagel appointment into their boosterish worldview. I love watching Washington partisans grovel, backpedal, and spin. The idealist in me hopes that this “likely” appointment will be deep-sixed somehow and that Obama will fill his second-term foreign policy team with American visionaries who have the moral clarity of a Moynihan, the shrewdness of a Kissinger, and the pragmatism Obama himself articulated in his Nobel acceptance address.

    • Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University and a Shalom Hartman Intstitute Engaging Israel Research Fellow in Jerusalem. His next book, “Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism,” will be published by Oxford University Press this fall.

    SOURCE –

    P.S. Gil Troy –

    • DICKERSON3870 on December 30, 2012, 12:13 am

      RE: “And now the Zionists are trying to deify Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the constantly bloviating, über-pompous ass of yore who once advocated a policy of ‘benign neglect’ for America’s (black) urban areas!” – me bloviating above

      MY COMMENT: This helps to illustrate why I fear that Revisionist Zionism and Likudnik Israel (specifically by virtue of their inordinate sway over the U.S.) might very well be an “existential threat” to the values of The Enlightenment ! ! !

      “How We Became Israel”, By Andrew J. Bacevich, The American Conservative, 9/10/12
      LINK –
      ‘Israelis are helping write US laws, fund US campaigns, craft US war policy’, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 6/30/12
      LINK –
      “America Adopts the Israel Paradigm”, by Philip Ghiraldi,, 7/05/12
      LINK –
      “Report: Israeli model underlies militarization of U.S. police”, By Muriel Kane, Raw Story, 12/04/11
      LINK –
      “David Yerushalmi, Islam-Hating White Supremacist Inspires Anti-Sharia Bills Sweeping Tea Party Nation”, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 3/02/11
      LINK –
      “Boston airport security program rife with racial profiling has Israeli links”, by Alex Kane, Mondoweiss, 8/14/12
      LINK –

    • DICKERSON3870 on December 30, 2012, 12:52 am

      P.S. FOUR FOREIGN FILMS TO BE ELIMINATED FROM NETFLIX STREAMING AT 3:00 AM EST ON DECEMBER 31 (If you only have time for one, I would suggest “Le Grand Voyage”.)

      Le Grand Voyage, 2004, NR, 108 minutes
      Driving his traditional Muslim father (Mohamed Majd) across Europe en route to Mecca, thoroughly modern college student Reda (Nicolas Cazale) finds little to say to the old man. But along the way, as the gap between father and son begins to narrow, the two discover that ultimately it’s the journey — not the destination — that matters. For his fresh take on the road trip formula, director Ismael Ferroukhi earned a BAFTA nomination.
      Language: French (English subtitles)
      Netflix formats: DVD and streaming
      Netflix listing –

      Campfire, 2004, NR, 96 minutes
      After her husband passes away, 42-year-old Rachel Gerlik (Michaela Eshet) decides to get a fresh start and moves from Jerusalem to the West Bank with her two teenage daughters in this thoughtful drama set in 1981. But while her judgmental, uptight new neighbors are busy playing matchmaker for single mother Rachel, trouble begins to brew with her girls, Esti (Maya Maron) and Tami (Hani Furstenberg). Moshe Ivgy plays Rachel’s new love interest.
      Director: Joseph Cedar
      Language: Hebrew (English subtitles)
      Netflix formats: DVD and streaming
      Netflix listing –

      Day Break, 2005, NR, 85 minutes
      The agony of waiting to learn his fate takes a toll on the psyche of convicted killer Mansour (Hosein Yari), whose life hangs in the balance in director Hamid Rahmanian’s taut drama filmed in a Tehran jail. Under Islamic law, in capital cases it falls to the victim’s family to either condemn or mercifully spare the offender. But when they repeatedly fail to appear on the chosen day, Mansour is left in a torturous psychological purgatory.
      Director: Hamid Rahmania
      Language: Farsi (English subtitles)
      Netflix formats: DVD and streaming
      Netflix listing –

      El Bola, 2000, NR, 87 minutes
      Twelve-year-old Pablo (Juan Jose Ballesta) is stuck in a deeply abusive home ruled by his tyrannical father when he meets a new classmate, Alfredo (Pablo Galan), who befriends Pablo and introduces him to a kinder, gentler version of family life. That life is personified by Alfredo’s fun-loving Bohemian father, Jose (Alberto Jimenez). Writer-director Achero Manas’s poignant film won more than 30 international awards, including four Spanish Goyas.
      Language: Spanish (English subtitles)
      Netflix formats: DVD and streaming
      Netflix listing –

  3. Avi_G. on December 30, 2012, 12:19 am

    Bloomberg’s response to the murder of Sunando Sen reminds me of the responses Israeli police often give to the murder of Palestinian citizens of Israel at the hands of Jews.

    When it’s the other way around, the public is told that it was an attack of nationalist nature — another Israeli euphemism for “terrorism”. When a Jew attacks a non-Jew and the motive is clearly hate, then the case is brushed under the rug.

    Case in point, during Israel’s latest Pillar of Cloud attack on Gaza, a Jewish man on a Vespa in Jerusalem (If memory serves) was harassing two women in a vehicle traveling in an adjacent lane.

    One of the women was wearing a hijab, so the man on the Vespa knew that she was Moslem. At the next red light, he got off the Vespa and assaulted both females.

    When they complained at the police station, the police brushed it off and said something along the lines of, ‘Well, that’s most likely in response to the rocket attacks on Sderot’.

    But Bloomberg’s response is not surprising given the ongoing, constitutionally illegal and discriminatory spying on Moslems well outside the confines of New York City limits.

    Bloomberg’s handling of this case also opens the door as the proverbial slippery-slope to dehumanizing Moslems to the point that vigilante justice against Moslems becomes the norm. And then, US law enforcement agencies will pay lip service to the rule of law, but actually do little to nothing to put the lid back on that Pandora’s box.

    In reading the comments to various news articles about this case, I am reminded of what is wrong with the way both the media and the government have been treating Moslems since the early days when the Israel Lobby made it its core objective to vilify Moslems (Say circa 1967).

  4. TwoRedDogs on December 30, 2012, 2:59 am

    The victim’s family should sue the MTA for allowing hate mongering ads. Even if it’s dismissed for failure to establish direct relation, the publicity generated will make it worthwhile.

  5. Les on December 30, 2012, 9:11 am

    New York’s Sikhs got the connection between the anti-Muslim fervor and the attack by a racist gunman on a Sikh temple near Milwaukee. Our print and broadcast do their anti-Muslim work with the 24/7 portrayal of Palestinians as evil incarnate. That does not exclude the holier-than-thou New York Times.

  6. piotr on December 30, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Clearly, while compared to other big cities in USA, NYC has exemplary record on homicide, but in more absolute terms, it is not so great.

    5 per 100,000 is still quite a bit. I checked my own “metro area”, and to get a meaningful index one has to average over a number of years (zero in the last few) to get below 1. And indeed, simply preventing the use of public property for inflamatory ads makes sense. I think that MTA did not want the Geller ads but it got a court order, and if there was ever the case that should be revisited, it is this one. It is paramount social and commercial interest of MTA that all passengers feel welcome and safe.

    • on December 31, 2012, 5:10 am

      “It is paramount social and commercial interest of MTA that all passengers feel welcome and safe.”

      And it is a paramount duty of the public that owns the MTA to ensure that no speech be censored. Of course that horrible beast called “The Public” loves censorship, ritual murder, police state control, lynching, war, etc. as long as it “feel[s] welcome and safe” but it hasn’t managed yet to officially abolish the Constitution, even though it is worthless as a protection under Obama. If you censor Geller you will censor me, too.

      • piotr on January 2, 2013, 9:43 am

        I actually do not understand the doctrine here. Assume that Mondoweiss accepts ads. Should it be within the rights of the owners to refuse Geller ad? When accepting ads is a duty?

        And suppose that I also want to post an ad in MTA, but my employer is not giving me a raise that would make it possible. Is my freedom of speech abridged?

  7. Les on December 30, 2012, 2:01 pm

    “Keep Sen’s death in perspective” just as our media did by not providing the details of the children killed in Gaza during Israel’s latest assault, more than the numbers of Newton school children killed.
    That the US rewared Israel by rushing to rearm it shows how skewed our media’s perspective is. That the lives of Palestinians, largely Muslim, are worthless is an idea that Sen’s killer got from her media, not from her church.

  8. Stephen Shenfield on December 30, 2012, 2:50 pm

    The woman said she hates Hindus as well as Moslems and holds both groups responsible for 9/11. A lot of people find it hard to make these fine distinctions and just hate all non-white foreigners (“wogs” as they’re called in Britain).

    • Avi_G. on December 30, 2012, 11:46 pm

      According to her last name, the attacker was a Hispanic woman, a member of a minority group in the US.

    • aiman on December 31, 2012, 7:29 pm

      Would the distinction be fine if she only held Muslims responsible for 9/11?

  9. Mayhem on December 30, 2012, 5:48 pm

    Nice cherry picking Annie and Alex. All silent on Naeem Davis who committed the same crime.

    • annie on December 30, 2012, 6:11 pm

      had they committed the same crime they would have been charged with the same crime. the wife of davis’s victim confirmed her husband was drunk when he left for work. allegedly, he screamed at davis and attacked him first. there’s no indication of pre meditation and no mention of davis attacking because he hated the victim’s race. so no, it’s not the same crime.

      • Mayhem on December 30, 2012, 6:34 pm

        What do Islamophobic hate crimes in NYC have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
        Cliff made the following remark at as he strove to annul my remarks there:

        All threads on Mondoweiss exist within one context and one context alone – the Israel / Palestine conflict

        What is good for the goose is supposed to be good for the gander. But not at Mondoweiss.
        I guess because many alleged purveyors of Islamophobia are supporters of Israel that we see guilt by association being tactically deployed.

      • annie on December 30, 2012, 9:25 pm

        I guess because many alleged purveyors of Islamophobia are supporters of Israel that we see guilt by association being tactically deployed.

        i think the critique was directed towards purveyors of Islamophobia mayem, as well as those who pretend it is not happening (like bloomberg) or empower situations that exacerbate it (the nypd, gellar). if the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. no one is accusing you of anything. i am not seeing your point wrt the goose and gander. no one cherry picked this. did you read the very first paragraph of the news article? it appears as tho you are diverting.

      • Cliff on December 30, 2012, 9:45 pm

        Mayhem has yet to respond to my linked comments in the other thread.

        The troll now poses this question:

        What do Islamophobic hate crimes in NYC have to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

        Bloomberg is a fanatical supporter of Zionism and Israel and has often repeated Israeli lies and various dishonest ‘point-scoring’ hasbara memes such as ‘no country would tolerate a constant barrage of rocket attacks[…] Imagine if Mexico was bombarding Texas with rockets.’

        His statements here, which whitewash the profundity of the attack underscores the hypocrisy of our elected officials when it comes to Arabs, Islam and Muslims, and Israel and Jewish nationalism.

        Why does Islamophobia matter?

        The Norway massacre and the nexus of Islamophobia and right-wing Zionism
        By Alex Kane

        Jewish nationalism actively promotes Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.

        Zionism and Islamophobia [Review of the excellent book, ‘Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism’]
        Robin Yassin-Kassab

        (Originally from Holy Land Studies)

        Excerpt from the latter:

        Today important sections of the American Jewish community act as ‘mother country’ for the Zionist state, helping to shape American (mis)perceptions of the Arab and Muslim worlds, and arguing insistently that Israel and America share identical interests and enemies. [EXAMPLE: The ‘non-existent’ Lobby’s attack on Chuck Hagel, a lukewarm criticizer of Israel.]

        Again, Zionist lobbying successes arise from Jewish power. Norman Finkelstein, though he disputes the key role of the lobby in forming American Middle East policy, has detailed (in ‘The Holocaust Industry’) the disproportionate American Jewish presence in cultural and political elites.

      • Cliff on December 30, 2012, 9:58 pm
  10. Obsidian on December 31, 2012, 12:09 am

    Keep Sen’s death in perspective. The woman who murdered him had a very long history of mental illness.

    • annie on December 31, 2012, 2:15 am

      there are lots of mentally ill people. all the more urgent to grasp how people like gellar danger society.

      besides, mentally healthy people are less likely to commit murder and they are less likely to become racists. it’s not difficult to put sen’s death in perspective since she said why she killed him.

    • Cliff on December 31, 2012, 2:28 am

      She had bipolar disorder.

      Is everyone with bipolar disorder going out killing ethnic groups they hate?

      Are you a psychiatrist, Obsidian? My dad is. Perhaps I’ll ask him what his experience has been in treating people who are bipolar.

      Until then, I think it’s safe to say you’re disgusting and attempting to whitewash a hate crime (whereas if it were to happen to a Jew, you’d condemn the culprit as a terrorist and reaffirm your Zionist conviction).

    • on December 31, 2012, 5:22 am

      “The woman who murdered him had a very long history of mental illness.”

      A mental illness more serious than that of the Zionists?
      Impossible. Just compare the results: a single teeny-weenie murder and arrest, versus ongoing gross landtheft and massacre.

    • aiman on January 2, 2013, 8:17 am

      It was a calculated, conscious crime.

  11. Cliff on December 31, 2012, 2:31 am

    Anyone notice how Zionist/colonists disassociated Anders Breivik from Zionism and Israel by blaming his actions on mental illness?

    Same deal here (especially with Zionist Bloomberg).

    Hive-mind at work.

  12. chinese box on December 31, 2012, 1:00 pm

    This mental illness whitewash is the same tactic they used to try to explain away Baruch Goldstein. Just a lone crazy.

  13. DICKERSON3870 on December 31, 2012, 6:39 pm

    RE: “Though Geller and her crew are fringe elements, they are not random or spontaneous, idiopathic lesions on the healthier whole. They are, quite sadly, part of this country, outcroppings of something big and ugly that has been seeping and creeping through the body politic for years.” ~ the phenomenal Lizzy Ratner


    [This scene takes place just above and behind the HOLLYWOODLAND sign, to where they had ridden their bicycles.]

    • Douglas Fairbanks: “Charles, you’re a foreigner; you’re still an outsider. You’ve never understood this country.”

    • Charlie Chaplin: “It’s a good country underneath, Doug.”

    • Douglas Fairbanks: “No, it’s a good country on *top*. Underneath, that’s what starts showing when we’re scared.”

    NOTE: The use of “*top*” means that ‘top’ was said with emphasis.

    SOURCE -

    • DICKERSON3870 on December 31, 2012, 6:41 pm

      P.S. RE: “No, it’s a good country on *top*. Underneath, that’s what starts showing when we’re scared.” ~ Douglas Fairbanks in the 1992 film “Chaplin” (from above)

      SEE: “How the Power of Myth Keeps Us Mired in War”, by Ira Chernus,, 01/20/11

      [EXCERPT] “. . . White Americans, going back to early colonial times, generally assigned the role of ‘bad guys’ to ‘savages’ lurking in the wilderness beyond the borders of our civilized land. Whether they were redskins, commies, terrorists, or the Taliban, the plot has always remained the same.
      Call it the myth of national security — or, more accurately, national insecurity, since it always tells us who and what to fear.
      It’s been a mighty (and mighty effective) myth. . .”

      SOURCE –

      P.P.S. ALSO SEE – “Iranophobia: The Panic of the Hegemons”, by Ira Chernus, Tikkun Magazine, November/December 2010
      LINK –

  14. AaronAarons on January 2, 2013, 12:59 am

    One indication of just how ignorant and/or stupid most extreme racists are is this killer’s lumping together of Muslims and Hindus. Perhaps she doesn’t know that, going back at least to the end of WWII, the greatest amount of anti-Muslim violence in the world has been committed by Hindus, often with overt or covert state sanction, in India and Indian-occupied Kashmir, and that Hindu-dominated India has very good relations with those other Islamophobic countries, Israel and the U.S..

    I don’t mean here to denounce the totality of Hindus. It is the politically dominant portions of the Hindu-identified population of India that are the problem, not only for Muslims but for Dalits, most of whom are nominally Hindu, but treated as pariahs, ‘untouchables’, within Hinduism.

    • piotr on January 2, 2013, 9:56 am

      I think India voted for admitting PA to UNGA, so that would make the victim a legitimate target.

      More seriously. the perp is mentally unstable school drop-out so a very coherent explanation of what she did is not likely. The question is: to what degree such people are influence by campaigns like Geller and tabloids? I think quite a bit.

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