Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | February 6, 2024 — The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) expresses deep concern following a recent act of violence in Texas. Sunday evening, four young American Muslims were targeted by 36-year-old Bert James Baker while driving home after attending a pro-Palestinian protest in Austin, TX.
During the incident, Baker removed a keffiyeh flag reading “Free Palestine” from their vehicle and shouted racial slurs before pulling one of the victims out of the car. Baker then stabbed 23-year-old Palestinian American, Zacharia Doar, in the chest, leaving him with a broken rib, and requiring him to undergo surgery.
The Austin Police Department designated this attack as “bias-motivated.” MPAC calls on the Travis County Attorney’s Office to further classify this heinous act of violence as a hate crime. It is of the utmost importance that our legal system acknowledges hate-based offenses to ensure that perpetrators are truly held accountable for their crimes.
As the death toll in Gaza and the West Bank climbs, the number of hate crimes against American Muslims and Palestinians disturbingly follows suit. Just last week, a video circulated of a young Muslim student wearing a hijab being both verbally and physically assaulted in Chicago. According to recent reports, this was not an isolated incident, as the assailant bullied another Muslim student last year.
This growing pattern of violence is extremely troubling. From the recent Wall Street Journal article referring to the city of Dearborn as “America’s Jihad Capital” to the New York Times article comparing the Middle East to the “Animal Kingdom,” White supremacist rhetoric and ideologies are increasingly promoted across mainstream media, government, and education. This false narrative openly dehumanizes and vilifies Muslim and Arab communities and fuels a vicious cycle of violence.
MPAC remains steadfast in our commitment to justice, dignity, and equality for all. Addressing systemic racism and Islamophobia is crucial in our efforts to safeguard our communities and foster a culture of understanding and respect. We must stand united in condemning these acts of hate.