A Muslim teen entered a subway car with Jewish passenger one day in April of 2013 and shared a greeting of his faith.
“As-salamu Alaikum,” or “Peace be with you.”
Had the story ended there, it might have been an inspirational one of two very different faiths coming together for religious harmony in the heart of the Big Apple.
But when the Jewish passenger didn’t say anything in response, it touched off a furor in the teen’s mind.
Stephan Stowe, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was reportedly with a group of eight friends when he gave the greeting. When that greeting wasn’t returned, he allegedly became combative.
“You think you’re better than me?” the New York Daily News quotes him as saying. “We are cousins,” he added.
To this, the Jewish passenger corrected him saying, “No we’re not.”
It’s at this point that the ethnic slurs begin as the teen reportedly called the man disrespectful, according to court documents, and threatened to kill the Jewish passenger “right now.”
In a possible reference to the Holocaust, court docs also quote Stowe as saying, “They should have killed all of you.”
As the situation grew more intense between the two people, the Jewish passenger took a photo of Stowe with his smartphone, to which Stowe snatched the phone from him and deleted it.
When the Jewish man got his phone back, he alerted personnel aboard the subway and police arrested the 17-year-old at the next stop, but not without what appeared to be some resistance.
As the alteration spiraled out of control, many bystanders got involved and police arrested 22-year-old Sheniqua Joseph as well.
The incident is back in the news after being shared on Facebook by thousands who believe it just happened.
Here’s video of the fallout between police and protesters.
It isn’t known whatever happened on the legal end, and since Stowe was a juvenile at the time of the incident, those records are protected by the courts system.
What most of the people sharing it on Facebook find the most disturbing is the language involved in the threat — especially the possible suggestion that the Nazis, in particular, should have “killed all of you” in the Holocaust.
While some have criticized the NYPD for being quick to arrest a Muslim teen without knowing both sides of the story, the video above does appear to be chaotic, leading other commenters to praise their actions.
“These cops were provoked,” said one viewer of the video, “and [they] behaved with considerable restraint. They are to be commended.”
Do you think the Muslim teen in the video was unfairly targeted by police, and if he did make the Holocaust comment, do you think he deserved to be arrested?