Palestinian American's stabbing in Texas meets hate crime definition, police say

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) - The stabbing of a Palestinian-American man in Austin, Texas, over the weekend meets the definition of a hate crime and local prosecutors will determine charges, Austin police said on Wednesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) advocacy group said a group of Muslim Americans were driving home from a pro-Palestinian protest on Sunday when the suspect attacked their vehicle at a stop sign.

The suspect, identified by police as Bert James Baker, shouted obscenities and stabbed a 23-year-old Palestinian-American in the chest, CAIR said.

Baker was arrested on Sunday, booked into county jail and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, police said. He could not be reached for comment.

A police statement on Wednesday said the police Hate Crimes Review Committee had determined the incident met the definition of a hate crime. It said local prosecutors will determine any further charges.

The victim's father, Nizar Doar, identified the victim as Zacharia Doar. The father told a CAIR-hosted press conference on Tuesday his son was trying to subdue Baker and suffered a broken rib. The son had since undergone surgery.

Human rights advocates cite a rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism in the U.S. that began with a Palestinian Hamas attack in Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel has responded with a ground and air attack on Hamas-ruled Gaza, killing more than 27,000 people, according to the local Palestinian health ministry.

Previous U.S. incidents include 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.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller)