Police: Victims Were Asked ‘Are You Muslim?' Before Being Attacked

The attack comes amid a spate of apparent instances of bias crime and hateful language

What to Know

  • Police released video of a man they say attacked people in Brooklyn after asking them "Are you Muslim?"
  • The attacks are being investigated as hate crimes
  • The NYPD says hate crimes are up 35 percent year over year in New York City

Two people were asked if they were Muslim before being attacked in Brooklyn, police say, and now the NYPD's Hate Crime Task Force is investigating.

Two attacks in the first two weeks of December, both in Bedford-Stuyvesant, are being investigated, according to police.

Police released surveillance video of the suspect linked to the two cases.

In the first attack, on the afternoon of Dec. 4, a group of men, including the suspect, walked up to a 20-year-old man on Gates Avenue. Police say the suspect asked the victim, “Are you from Saudi Arabia? Are you Muslim?” Moments later, he allegedly punched him in the face and another person pushed him to the ground. The group took off down Marcy Avenue.

The victim checked himself in at Elmhurst Hospital.

The victim, speaking to NBC 4 New York Friday, said his attackers were wearing hoodies and smoking cigarettes when he encountered them. They threw him to the ground and punched him, breaking his jaw, he said. 

"One guy push me, hit in the face and second guy throw me down... I  broke my bones," said the victim, who asked that his identity remain concealed.

The man, who just moved to the U.S. from India last month, still had his jaw wired shut Friday and he says he has been unable to eat since the attack. 

In the second attack, this Monday, a 58-year-old man was walking on Marcus Garvey Boulevard, near Vernon Avenue, around 3 p.m. when three men allegedly stopped him and asked where he was from.

The victim was taken to Woodhull Medical Center with a bloody nose and swelling to his face.

The attack comes amid a spate of apparent instances of bias crime and hateful language throughout the region following the presidential election.

Earlier this month, a man called a Muslim MTA worker a terrorist and pushed her down a flight of stairs at Grand Central Terminal, according to police.

In New York City, hate crime has spiked 115 percent since Election Day, with 43 cases reported compared with 20 cases in the same period in 2015, according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. Bias against Muslims has doubled, with four cases reported since Election Day compared with two reported in the same time period last year.

One report, however, was found to be a hoax. A Muslim college student said she was harassed on a subway train by three men shouting "Donald Trump" but was later arrested on suspicion of making a false report. 

Overall, hate crimes are up 35 percent year over year, with a 45 percent uptick in arrests, Boyce said.

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