A New York woman allegedly attacked two Muslim women and their young children in an incident Thursday that prosecutors are characterizing as a hate crime.
Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, approached the women in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bath Beach, Brooklyn on Thursday afternoon, prosecutors allege, according to the New York Daily News. The women were wearing hijabs and pushing two babies — an 11-month-old and a 15-month-old — in strollers. Police say Xhelili tried to rip the hijabs off their heads, then hit the women in the face, pushed over one stroller and rattled another, CNN reports.
“Get the the fuck out of America, bitches,” Xhelili also allegedly shouted. “This is America — you shouldn’t be different from us.”
The mothers and children were not seriously injured. Xhelili continued to berate the women as police took her into custody, Assistant District Attorney Kelli Muse said at Xhelili’s arraignment on Friday. She’s facing charges of assault, reckless endangerment of a child and harassment.
The Council on Islamic Relations released a statement imploring the DA to treat the incident seriously, and encouraging Islamic groups to ramp up security measures as the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States draws closer.
“We urge the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office to prosecute this horrific attack vigorously, sending the message that hate attacks targeting any minority group will not be tolerated,”Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR-NY, said in the statement. “We urge mosques and Islamic institutions to increase security measures, particularly this weekend as the nation marks the solemn occasion of the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, which some may use as an excuse to attack American Muslims.”
The United States has experienced a surge of anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts of violence since the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, France, and a mass shooting in San Bernadino, California the following month. The Huffington Post tracked 233 anti-Muslim acts in July.