NYPD makes first arrest following attack of Queens Muslim man after calls from CAIR-NY, elected officials

Photo courtesy of CAIR-NY

A Muslim father was allegedly assaulted by a Hispanic man and woman on Friday, Nov. 6 in Rego Park in what the Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York (CAIR-NY), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, is calling an “anti-Muslim attack.”

Khaled Aly, a 38-year-old Egyptian-American, was allegedly assaulted by two Hispanic individuals when he returned home with his wife, Neamat Taha and two children at approximately 11 p.m. on Woodhaven Boulevard.

CAIR-NY is representing the Aly family, who were allegedly confronted by the two assailants as they were walking to their apartment. The assailants allegedly harassed Taha, who wears a hijab (a Muslim headscarf). The female assailant allegedly grabbed Taha while the male assailant began to aggressively approach her.

Prior to grabbing Taha, the assailants allegedly told the family that “we are in America,” according to CAIR-NY. Aly asked the assailants to leave them alone and to not touch his wife. The assailants then viciously beat Aly while his kids watched in horror, according to CAIR-NY.

The Muslim civil rights nonprofit added that during the assault, the assailants allegedly cursed at Aly and called him a “f—— Muslim” and threatened to “kill your f—— family.”

Taha called 911 during the assault, but by the time officers from the NYPD’s 112th Precinct arrived on the scene, the assailants had fled. EMS responded and transported Aly to NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens in stable condition.

Aly underwent surgery for his ‎injuries and was released from the hospital on the evening of Monday, Nov. 9.  ‎

CAIR-NY called on the NYPD to investigate the attack as a hate crime that day after no arrests were made.

“Hate crimes targeting the Muslim community need to be taken seriously,” said CAIR-NY Legal Director Ahmed Mohamed in a previous press release. “Again and again, we are seeing that bias-motivated crimes targeting Muslims are being minimized and not properly investigated.  Mr. Aly was beaten mercilessly in front of his young children, who are now traumatized, and the NYPD knows the identities of the assailants and where they reside. Yet, the NYPD has failed to make any arrests. It is outrageous and speaks to the lack of urgency to investigating crimes targeting the Muslim community.”

Mohamed pointed to other incidents of Muslim-Americans assaults, including Fatoumata Camara’s hate crime case and Abrar Chowdhury’s vicious assault, in which they say the NYPD failed to “properly investigate.” In August, CAIR-NY also called on the NYPD to investigate the attack of a Muslim teen who was assaulted with a baseball bat in Staten Island.

They have since received support from City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Queens Borough President-elect Donovan Richards.

“This is horrifying. Especially because Mr. Aly’s children witnessed their father being ruthlessly beaten in front of their home,” Stinger wrote in a tweet. “Thank you @CAIRNewYork for your tireless advocacy for our Muslim communities. We stand with you — our safety is in solidarity.”

On Thursday, Nov. 12, Richards called on the NYPD to “arrest the perpetrators immediately.”

“Hate has no place in Queens,” he wrote in a tweet.

An NYPD spokesperson said an arrest was made on Thursday, at approximately 4:30 p.m., when Giselle Dejesus, 35, was arrested and charged with assault in the 2nd degree, act in a manner injurious to a child, two counts of aggravated harassment in the second degree 2nd and disorderly conduct.

The NYPD also confirmed they are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

Dejesus was arraigned in Queens criminal court Friday morning and charged with assault as a hate crime, three counts of aggravated harassment, four counts of endangering the welfare of a child and disorderly conduct. If convicted, she faces up to 15 years in prison.

“A family was terrorized because of their religious beliefs,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “Such bigotry will be confronted and prosecuted in Queens.”

Mohamed said while they are grateful one assailant has been arrested and charged, they await news on the second assailant’s arrest.

“We are grateful that one of the suspects has been taken into custody — and appropriately charged with a hate crime. We are hopeful that the male suspect will soon be arrested and charged so that the family can feel safe again,” said Mohamed. “No individual should ever be targeted in a manner such as this. We thank the 112th precinct for their diligent work so far and appreciate the guidance of Mr. Brovner from the Queens District Attorney’s office. We will continue to advocate for the family and ensure that justice is served.”

According to CAIR-NY, the assailants were identified as neighbors of Aly and Taha’s apartment complex.

Taha said that upon her return to the apartment complex on Saturday, Nov. 7, she was confronted by the male assailant who allegedly bragged about assaulting Aly and threatened Taha and her family, stating “I’m going to burn you and burn your family.”

Taha was accompanied by male friends at the time. Taha and her family have not returned to their apartment out of fear for their safety, according to CAIR-NY.

Local Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said Aly’s attack is “unacceptable.”

“The viciousness of the attack on the Muslim gentleman is, in and of itself, disturbing and upsetting,” she said. “To have racial bias as a prime component of this crime makes this horrific act even more despicable and unacceptable. There is no place in our community for such behavior and it will not be tolerated.”

This story first appeared on amny.com.

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