Muhammad Suhail Raza Malik had ducked into an Annapolis gas station to grab a bite to eat before the Ramadan fast resumed at sunrise Monday, when a group of young men shouted derogatory racial comments and viciously attacked him, he said.
Since then, the 27-year-old Pakistani taxicab driver has been in and out of hospitals as doctors try to mend his broken right eye socket, swollen right eyelid and possibly dislocated jaw. Three men remained behind bars yesterday, charged with a hate crime in the attack.
Malik, who has been in the United States for six years and a cab driver for about nine months, said he has grown accustomed to nightly verbal assaults in the aftermath of last year's terrorist attacks but had never been physically assaulted until Monday.
"You can't imagine what I go through," Malik said yesterday. "People really give you a hard time."
Malik said that when the three men approached him Monday, he told them he was on a break and tried to duck into the gas station store to avoid a confrontation.
But the men then began yelling comments such as "You bombed our country," "You terrorist," and "We hate you, go back to your country," according to the police incident report.
As the verbal barrage intensified, one man hit Malik in the face with a glass bottle, and when Malik grabbed a broomstick to try to defend himself, they ripped that from his hands and began beating him nearly unconscious with it, according to the report.
Michael Holland, vice president of Annapolis Checker Cab, Malik's employer, said it is the most violent attack on a cab driver - and the first racially motivated incident - he can remember. "This is purely a hate crime," Holland said.
Officer Hal Dalton, spokesman for the Annapolis police, said the incident is the first alleged hate crime in the city this year. He called the attack "very unusual."