No one was more jubilant about the death of Osama bin Laden than Youssef Mohamed, 29, a fruit vendor in midtown.
“My last name is Mohamed! My birthday is September 11!” he explained. Birthdays aren’t typically a big deal in Egypt, but Mohamed has not celebrated his at all since emigrating from Egypt in 2006.
This year, he plans to mark his big 3-0 by taking his wife to Florida. Now that bin Laden, the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks is finally dead, “Maybe this year I can have a good celebration,” the immigrant said.
While Mohamed loves New York, his birth date has proven to be a curse here.
When the immigration officer took his fingerprints for his green card, he recounted, “she almost broke my finger.” Mohamed suspects the roughness derived from her associating “Mohamed” and his birth date, “September 11, 1981” with the day the U.S. was attacked.
The minute a police officer glimpses the name and birthday on his ID, he knows he will be cited for every conceivable violation the cop can find involving his food cart. “I’ve paid $4,000 in fines,” he sighed.
Another time, one of his wife’s relatives, who had been drinking, said his birth date proved he was a terrorist. That hurt his feelings. “I love this country with my heart!” he said.
Mohamed was about to anglicize his last name so his 2-year-old daughter “will feel safe when she goes to school,” but is hoping that with bin Laden dead, the acrimony against all things Islamic and the anger his birthday provokes may abate.
“Obama is smart!” said Mohamed. “God bless him!”