AUSTIN, Texas – Bert James Baker faces serious charges after a stabbing incident in Austin, Texas on Sunday. The 36-year-old is charged with second-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, as reported by the Austin Police Department and online court records.
The alleged victim, identified as 23-year-old Palestinian American Zacharia Doar, was reportedly attacked following a pro-Palestinian protest in the area. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the incident has sparked calls for the prosecution to consider hate crime charges against the suspect.
Doar, who was hospitalized and underwent surgery, is said to be in significant pain and agony, according to his father, Nizar Doar. The victim’s father expressed the emotional toll of the incident, stating his initial fear of losing his son and the concern for breaking the news to him and his wife, who recently had a baby.
The Austin Police Department characterized the attack as “bias-motivated,” and the case is now under review by the Hate Crimes Review Committee. The committee will then pass the details of the case to the appropriate legal authorities for further action.
The alleged assault comes amid a rise in reported anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and anti-Semitic incidents in the US, fueled by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Nizar Doar attributed the attack to President Joe Biden’s stance on the Gaza conflict, expressing blame towards the President for the incident.
The incident occurred after the victim and three other Muslim Americans attended a pro-Palestinian protest in Austin. CAIR stated that during the incident, the suspect attempted to remove a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf from the victims’ car, leading to a physical confrontation and ultimately a stabbing.
The local Muslim community, as represented by Fayyaz Shah, the chair of CAIR Austin’s board, has called for hate crime charges against the suspect and urged federal law enforcement to launch a hate crime investigation.
University of Texas at Austin Police confirmed that neither the victim nor the suspect had any affiliation with the university. The entire Austin Muslim community has stood in solidarity with the victims, condemning the surge in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate incidents across the nation.
Overall, the incident has sparked widespread concern and calls for justice, as the legal process unfolds to determine the appropriate charges and consequences for the accused assailant.