NEW YORK: A man attacked a Muslim employee at a John F. Kennedy Airport lounge in New York and shouted that U.S. President Donald Trump “will get rid of all of you,” authorities said.
Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating bomb threats against a Denver community centre catering to Muslim refugees, AFP said.
The incidents come to light amid heightened consternation in the Muslim-American community over an executive order signed on Friday by Trump to limit the flow of refugees from some predominantly Muslim countries into the United States.
Robin Rhodes, of Worcester, Mass., had arrived at JFK from Aruba and was awaiting a connecting flight to Massachusetts on Wednesday night when he approached Rabeeya Khan, who wears a hijab, at the Sky Club in Terminal 2 while she was sitting in the utility office, authorities said.
Khan is a contracted employee based at the Sky Club and works for a facility services company called ISS, according to Delta.
Khan told police that Rhodes came to the door and went on a profanity-laced tirade, asking her if she was praying, district attorney Richard A. Brown said. Rhodes then punched the door, which hit the back of Khan’s chair, he said.
The 60-year-old Khan asked Rhodes what she had done to him and Rhodes said she’d done nothing, authorities said. He then cursed at her and kicked her in the leg, Khan told police.
When another person tried to calm him down, Rhodes moved away from the door and Khan ran out of the office to the front desk at the club, authorities said. Rhodes, 57, followed her, got down on his knees and began to bow down to imitate Muslim prayers and shouted obscenities, investigators said.
Khan recalled Rhodes saying: “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kinds of people. You see what happens,” prosecutors said.
The airline called the incident “totally unacceptable.”
Rhodes appeared in court Thursday night on charges of assault and menacing as hate crimes and is being held on $30,000 bail. He was represented by a public defender for the court hearing, but will have to get his own attorney for subsequent proceedings. His next court date is Feb. 8.