Austin Police Monday called the stabbing of a Palestinian American man near the University of Texas at Austin campus a ” “bias-motivated” incident.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization, had earlier applied pressure to classify the charges as hate crimes.
UT police said neither the suspect nor the victim were affiliated with the school. Despite this, a student organization called the Palestine Solidarity Committee released a statement. In it they expressed their fear that this could happen again and to students.
The victim, 23-year-old Zachary Doar attended a state-wide rally in West Campus in support of Palestine with his three friends. Attached to the car they rode in flew a keffiyeh or Arab headscarf that read ‘Free Palestine,’ The Daily Texas reported.
Bert James Baker, allegedly ripped the keffiyeh off the car and opened the passenger side door while yelling racial obscenities. The passengers got of the car, to defend themselves. In response, Baker stabbed Doar in the lower chest. According to Yahoo News, Baker, 36, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
During the time of the incident, two UT alumni, Maryam S. and Suhaib S., who refrained from sharing their last names for anonymity, drove past the scene. They noticed Doar’s stab wound and his blood-soaked shirt.
“(Doar) was clearly disoriented and about to fall over,” Maryam said. “He was saying ‘I feel like there’s blood in my lungs.”
Then, the alumni used the keffiyeh from Doar’s car to stop the bleeding before calling for help. The victim, then, went to the hospital to treat stab wounds and a broken rib. On Monday, he had surgery and is expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.
Nizar Doar, the victim’s father, told reporters “He’s in pain. He’s in agony.”
On Tuesday, Doar spoke at a press conference held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“My son was yelling and screaming at four o’clock in the morning. And I couldn’t do anything about it except call nurses, saying ‘Please help him. Please help my son,” Doar said.
The victim’s father believed that this would never had happened if President Biden and other leaders had called for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“This has come to haunt us in our homeland. It’s come to haunt us in the U.S. It’s come to haunt us in Texas. This is not acceptable. And I beg you to call an end for this madness.”
Ever since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel and the Israel-Hamas war, the U.S. has witnessed a surge in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim incidents, AXIOS Austin reported.
CAIR shared that there has been a 200% increase in complaints of incidents from this time last year.
Subsequently, CAIR has said “We welcome the swift recognition of the alleged motive for this attack and call on law enforcement authorities to bring appropriate charges.” They added “Every American should be free to express their political views, wear symbols of their culture and practice their faith without fear of attack or intimidation.”
Further, the Austin Police Department (APD) will review the case and give the information to the Travis County District Attorney’s office.
The APD explained on Tuesday “It is up to the prosecuting office to enhance the offense to a bias-motivated crime, not the investigative unit.”
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