Unprovoked Stabbing on Worth Street has Chinatown on Edge

Posted on: February 26th, 2021 at 11:39 am by

Photo: Jenny Low

In an apparently random attack yesterday evening, a 36-year-old Chinese man was stabbed in the back, and severely injured, by Brooklyn resident Salman Muflihi. The attacker wielded an eight-inch knife in the incident outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse on Worth Street, then surrendered at the entrance of the Manhattan DA’s office on Hogan Place.

According to sources familiar with the investigation, there was no exchange of words or interaction. But some outlets are saying that Muflihi “didn’t like the way he looked at him.” The victim was rushed to Bellevue into emergency surgery and clings to life. Police recovered the large kitchen knife at the scene.

Chinatown has been relatively safe since the outbreak of Covid-19, and no serious attacks have been reported aside from verbal harassment. However, the community has been on edge lately thanks to reports of possible biased crimes reported the past two weeks. Sadly, this latest incident will compound that fear.

The homegrown Chinatown Block Watch and Guardian Angels have been patrolling the neighborhood since February 2020 and will likely step up the frequency after assessing the need. The rise in potentially biased incidents has also motivated younger residents to organize escort services for seniors whether to the markets or doctor visits. One such grassroots organization is Protect Chinatown and they’ve created an online sign-up for seniors.

As an advocate for crime victims, I looked into the NYPD data for 2015 and found only two hate crimes reported citywide against Asians. The serious lack of reporting could be attributed to victims who may have encountered frustration in filing reports due to language difficulties. In 2016, I organized hate crime education forums with the NYPD hate crimes task force and local electeds in Flushing and Manhattan. We’ve seen 29 reports of biased incidents on record as being investigated. These numbers also reflect an increasing willingness of victims to report where they might have shrugged it off in the past. (I’ve always told victims if they do not report it never happened.)

Reports of spiking biased incidents has struck a chord in Chinatown and other Asian communities, but we are resilient and will get through this. We refuse to live in fear. While the media focus has been these attacks, some on social media have been employing fearmongering tactics.

This random attack is an indictment of Mayor de Blasio’s handling of the homeless and mental health crisis gripping our city.  How many patients are missing appointments for counseling or therapy sessions or even have access to medications?

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