Two Arab Rights Activists Attacked in Brooklyn; Suspect Arrested

Man, charged with hate crime, threatened to behead director of advocacy group, reports say.

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A NYPD officer stands guard while Palestinians take part in a protest in New York, against military action in Gaza, August 9, 2014.
A NYPD officer stands guard while Palestinians take part in a protest in New York, against military action in Gaza, August 9, 2014.Credit: Reuters

The two top officials of a Brooklyn-based advocate for Arab civil rights on Wednesday were attacked in Brooklyn by a man who shouted anti-Arab epithets and threatened to behead one of them, reports say.

The police charged Brian Boshell, 45, with menacing and aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of weapon, the New York Daily News reported.

The attack comes in the wake of the beheading of two U.S. journalists by Islamic State, a group trying to form a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Linda Sarsour, 34, the director of the Arab-American Association of New York, said that Boshell threatened her and threw a trash can at her and her deputy.

"My deputy director and I were harassed and assaulted by a bigoted drunk who hurled hateful Islamophobic and anti-Arab epithets at us on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge," Sarsour posted on Facebook. "He said, `you are cutting people's heads off [you prostitute.] I'm going to cut off your head and see how your people will feel, you Arab bitch' and plenty more after that."

She said that the police were initially slow to respond but later the "top brass" with the New York City Police Department "stepped up" and the suspect was apprehended, reports say.

Council Members Brad Lander and Mark Levine, members of the New York City Council’s Jewish Caucus, condemned the attack, the website JP Updates reported. “Appalled by Islamophobic attack on [Sarsour]. No room for hate attacks in BK. Too many of us vulnerable,” Lander tweeted.

New York magazine reported, citing Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, that from 2009 through 2011 at least 59 anti-Muslim hate crimes occurred in New York.

Sarsour also wrote, "Hope things like this never happen to anyone. A very traumatic experience."

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