Over the weekend in Austin, Texas, a Palestinian-American man, Zacharia Doar, was stabbed in a reported bias-motivated incident by a white suspect named Bert James Baker. The incident occurred as a group of Muslim Americans were driving home from a pro-Palestinian protest. Baker allegedly attacked their car at a stop sign, shouting obscenities and attempting to rip a “Free Palestine” flag from their vehicle. In the process, he stabbed Zacharia in the chest. The victim’s father, Niza Doar, revealed that Zacharia was trying to subdue Baker when he was stabbed, resulting in a broken rib. Zacharia underwent surgery and is now recovering in the hospital.
Bias-Motivated Attack Sparks Investigations, Link to Global Events, and Calls for Ceasefire Accountability
After being taken into custody on Sunday night, Bert James Baker faces charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The event is being investigated by a Hate Crimes Review Committee, and the police are examining it as a bias-motivated crime.
Although the suspect’s intentions are unclear at this time, human rights organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) refer to an increase in antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Palestinian sentiment in the United States in light of recent events in the Middle East
Zacharia Doar’s father expressed his son’s belief that President Joe Biden bears responsibility for the attack, citing a message to the president stating that if a ceasefire had been called three months earlier, the incident might have been avoided. This incident adds to a concerning trend, including a November shooting of three students of Palestinian descent in Vermont and the fatal October stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American in Illinois.
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On a separate note, the Muslim Legal Fund of America revealed that the U.S. Department of Education is investigating accusations that Harvard University failed to protect pro-Palestinian students from threats.
A similar investigation is underway regarding a complaint on behalf of Jewish students. These incidents highlight the broader issue of rising tensions and bias affecting various communities in the U.S.