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Indian mistaken for Muslim attacked in US bar

An Indian man was mistaken for a Muslim and brutally hit multiple times on the head and face at a bar in the US – the latest in a series of anti-Muslim hate crimes, following Donald Trump’s victory.

Ankur Mehta was allegedly attacked at the Red Robin Restaurant in Pennsylvania while he was working on his tablet with earbuds plugged in the ears when the attacker grabbed and punched him.

The attacker, who was identified as and Jeffrey Burgess, also hurled racial and ethnic epithets at Mehta, who was taken to a hospital with a loose tooth and a cut on his upper lip.

Mehta told the police that Burgess told 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 smelt 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 beat Mehta in the head and face with his elbow and fist, “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 posted on social media describing ‘hijab grab’ attacks on them.
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