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Victim of ‘anti-Palestine stabbing’ sends stark message to Biden

Bert James Baker, 36, has been arrested on charges of aggravated assault (APD)
Bert James Baker, 36, has been arrested on charges of aggravated assault (APD)

A Palestinian-American who was stabbed in an alleged hate crime attack over the weekend has blamed President Biden for the attack, according to his father.

Twenty-three-year-old Zacharia Doar was stabbed in the chest on Sunday night near the University of Texas at Austin campus after attending a pro-Palestine protest. The Austin Police Department said in a statement that 36-year-old Bert James Baker, who has been arrested on charges of aggravated assault, allegedly yelled racial slurs at Mr Doar as the attack unfolded.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on prosecutors to file hate crime charges against Mr Baker, claiming that Mr Doar was targeted because he is Palestinian. APD said that the investigators believe the incident was bias-motivated and is now being reviewed by the Hate Crimes Review Committee.

In an emotional testimony in front of reporters, Mr Doar’s father Nizar Doar spoke of his son’s pain and a message he had reportedly delivered from his hospital bed. Mr Doar and CAIR advocates made renewed calls for peace in Gaza as the war in the besieged country enters its fourth month.

“He is in pain, He is in agony,” Nizar Doar said. “He said, ‘Mr President, Mr Joe Biden, I blame you for what happened to me. If you had called for a ceasefire three months ago, this would have never happened.’”

Nazir Doar said that his son, a father to a three-month-old boy, had wanted to attend the press conference on Tuesday, but was advised against it.

“This is not about Zacharia or me... it is about humanity everywhere in the world and humanity in Gaza,” Nizar Doar continued. “Please take action immediately and stop the genocide in Gaza”

According to CAIR, Mr Doar and other young Muslim activists were travelling in a car when a man, believed to be Mr Baker, approached them at a stop sign. Mr Baker allegedly began screaming disparaging comments and slurs and tried to rip a “Free Palestine” flag off the car.

The suspect reportedly forced one of the car passengers out of the car and a fight ensued.

Mr Dobark, who is not a student at the university, was stabbed and transported to hospital to treat his injuries. APD said the case will be filed with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office once the Hate Crimes Review Committee completes its review.

“The recent rise in Islamophobia in this country is leading to deadly violence,” Rep Greg Cassar said in a tweet. “We must condemn all anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate & violence. It should have no place in Austin or our country. My thoughts are with the victim & I hope for a full recovery.”

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, met officials in Egypt and Qatar on Tuesday during his fifth trip to the Middle East since October, as the three countries seek a hostage release deal and the war’s first extended truce. More than 100 captives, mostly women and children, were released during a weeklong ceasefire in November in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.

Israel, which is pressing on with its offensive deep into parts of the Gaza Strip now sheltering hundreds of thousands of people displaced from earlier fighting, said its forces had killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen in the past 24 hours.

Palestinians hope Mr Blinken’s talks will nail down a ceasefire before Israeli forces storm Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are sheltering, mainly in public buildings and tents made from sheets of plastic, hard against the border with Egypt.