Photo from CAIR-NY
Police charged a New York City woman with assault as a hate crime after they say she attacked a Muslim family in Queens, reports NBC 4.
Authorities believe 35-year-old Giselle DeJesus and an unidentified man in the parking lot of their Queens apartment confronted Neamat Taha, husband Khaled Aly, and the couple’s two children
Taha says that DeJesus began an Islamophobic rant before grabbing Taha’s hijab. When Aly tried to intervene, the other man pushed him to the ground and started kicking him. Taha says DeJesus also joined the man in physically assaulting her husband.
Aly required surgery for broken bones on his face.
Taha, who has been staying with her children at a relative’s home, says that the man also threatened her when she returned to the apartment to retrieve some of her belongings.
“He showed me something shiny, I don’t know what kind of weapon, and said, ‘I have a weapon, if I see you here anymore, I will burn you and burn your kids,'” she said.
According to the Queens Daily Eagle, the NYPD initially declined to label the attack as a hate crime. Officers believed that the incident appeared to be part of a ongoing dispute between neighbors.
However, 112th Precinct Commander Joseph Cappelmann stated Thursday that investigators discovered new information that suggested the attack “may have been motivated by the victim’s religious beliefs.”
”Recently, additional information has come to light and the 112th Precinct Detective Squad and the Hate Crime Task Force along with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office will be seeking to charge this incident as a Hate Crime,” he said in a statement.
DeJesus has been charged with second-degree assault among other offenses, but the man accompanying her still remains at large.
The New York Chapter of the Council on Islamic-American Relations, or CAIR, says Aly has since been released from the hospital, but the family is now afraid to go back home.
“My kids, they never sleep from that time, they’re so afraid,” she added. “They tell me, ‘We so afraid, we need to leave that area.'”
Officers are still working to identify the second suspect in the attack.
“We are grateful that one of the suspects has been taken into custody—and appropriately charged with a hate crime,” said CAIR-NY Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed. “We are hopeful that the male suspect will soon be arrested and charged so that the family can feel safe again. No individual should ever be targeted in a manner such as this.”
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