Abdulwahab Omira, an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University, has released a statement after he was struck by a car Friday afternoon in what authorities are calling a hate crime.
“As I lay in my hospital bed, grappling with a reality I had never imagined, I reflect on the importance of spreading love, kindness, and compassion in a world that seems to be steadily succumbing to hatred and prejudice,” Omira said. “This ordeal has solidified my resolve to advocate for love, understanding, and inclusivity.”
Omira claims the driver, whom he described to authorities after the incident as “a white male in his mid-20s, with short dirty-blond hair and a short beard, wearing a gray shirt and round framed eyeglasses,” had expressed hostility toward Muslims before.
“An individual who had previously shown animosity towards my community, struck me intentionally,” Omira said in his statement. “His hateful screams of ‘f*** you and your people’ still echo in my ears as I grapple with the physical and emotional pain this incident has left in its wake.”
Omira was walking to class just before 2 p.m. Friday when he was struck by a 2015 or newer black Toyota 4Runner. A preliminary investigation by the California Highway Patrol determined the incident was a hate crime, according to a Saturday statement from the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation.
To date, Stanford University’s Department of Public Safety has released two alerts about the incident – one on Friday and an update Saturday – but Omira says the school took too long to issue a warning to the community and showed insufficient concern for his well-being or the circumstances of the incident.
“The hours following the incident were agonizingly silent from the institution that I had trusted to be my safeguard,” Omira said. “It took a multitude of emails and a cry for acknowledgment to bring forth a personal response from the administration.”
Dee Mostofi, assistant vice president of external communications for Stanford University told CNN campus authorities issued the notice as soon as they had enough information from the highway patrol about the incident.
While Omira points out “emotional scars—the feeling of being targeted solely because of my heritage and beliefs—are likely to linger,” he said he hopes his experience will ultimately serve as a positive inspiration to society.
“Today, as I share my story, my hope is to ignite a spark of empathy, a desire for change, and a call to action to foster a society where love overpowers hate, where understanding douses ignorance, and where compassion binds us in a tapestry of unified strength,” Omira said.
Stanford president Richard Saller and provost Jenny Martinez condemned the hit-and-run in a campus statement Friday.
“We are profoundly disturbed to hear this report of potentially hate-based physical violence on our campus,” the statement read. “Violence on our campus is unacceptable. Hate-based violence is morally reprehensible.”
The Council on American–Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area said in a statement Saturday the incident “underscores the urgent need to address the growing Islamophobia and hatred that have been plaguing our communities.”
The crime comes amid heightened tensions in the US following the October 7 Hamas terror attacks and intense Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Last month, a man stabbed a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy to death in Chicago in an incident being investigated by the Department of Justice as a hate crime. And Muslim and Arab groups across the country have reported a rise in vandalism, threats, and harassment.