An Indian man, mistaken for a Muslim, was brutally attacked at a bar in the US, the latest in a series of anti-Muslim hate crimes that have erupted since Donald Trump’s victory.
Ankur Mehta was allegedly hit multiple times on his head and face at the Red Robin Restaurant in Pennsylvania while he was working on his tablet with his earphones on. The attacker, identified as Jeffrey Burgess, had grabbed and punched Mehta with his elbow and fist. He also allegedly called out racial and ethnic epithets at Mehta who was taken to a hospital with a loose tooth and a cut to his upper lip, Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reported.
Mehta told police that Burgess said to him that “things are different now” and “I don’t want you sitting next to me. You people.”
Burgess, 54, spoke with slurred speech and was staggering and smelled of alcohol, police said, adding that he then used an ethnic slur commonly used against those of Middle Eastern descent.
“We believe this is just the latest incident in spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes since the November 8 elections,” Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said.
The criminal complaint says Burgess “launched an unprovoked attack on the victim as he was seated at the bar, beat him physically,” Bethel Park police chief, Timothy O’Connor said.
Mehta was oblivious to the comments until Burgess allegedly struck him in the face with his elbow multiple times, the officer said.
Witnesses told police Burgess grabbed Mehta by the head and punched him. They also said Mehta was defenceless and unaware of Burgess’s impending attack.
Burgess was arrested for ethnic intimidation, simple assault, harassment and public drunkenness.
The incident comes amid a notable spike in hate-crime incidents against the minority community following Trump’s election as US President.
Many Muslim women have also spoken about ‘hijab grab’ attacks on them on social media.