Three Palestinian students shot and wounded in Vermont in possible hate crime

The students were wearing Palestinian kuffiyeh when they were shot

Graig Graziosi
Sunday 26 November 2023 19:34 GMT
Related video: Thousands rally in DC in support of Palestinians and ceasefire in Gaza

Three college students reportedly of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded on Saturday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to police.

The students were travelling to a family dinner when they were attacked, The Guardian reports.

The victims were identified as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, who are undergraduate students at Brown, Haverford, and Trinity, according to Husam Zomlot, the head of Palestine's mission to the UK.

Mr Zomlot wrote on X/Twitter that the victims were wearing Palestinian kuffiyeh when they were shot.

While police have not publicly identified a motive in the attack, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee wrote on X/Twitter that "we have reason to believe that the shooting was motivated by the three [victims] being Arab."

Three Palestinian students who were shot while walking to a family dinner in Burlington, Vermont. They have been identified as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali and Kenan Abdulhamid (@@hzomlot/Twitter)

“The three victims were wearing a kuffiyeh and speaking Arabic. A man shouted and harassed the victims," the organisation wrote in its statement.

Burlington Police Chief Jon Murad said during a press briefing that the suspect was a white male who shot the three men without speaking.

“Preliminary investigation has determined that all three were visiting the home of one victim’s relatives in Burlington for the Thanksgiving holiday. The three were walking on Prospect Street when they were confronted by a white male with a handgun,” Mr Murad said. “The suspect was on foot in the area. Without speaking, he discharged at least four rounds from the pistol and is believed to have fled on foot.”

The Council on American Islamic Relations have put up a $10,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the attacker or attackers.

All three of the men were graduates of Ramallah Friends School, which is a Palestinian learning institution.

“We extend our thoughts and prayers to them and their families for a full recovery, especially considering the severity of injuries – as Hisham has been shot in the back, Tahseen in the chest, and Kinnan with minor injuries,” the school said in a social media post. “While we are relieved to know that they are alive, we remain uncertain about their condition and hold them in the light.”

Both Islamophobia and antisemitism have been on the rise in the wake of the 7 October Hamas terror attack that killed 1,400 Israelis, and Israel's devastating military response, which has reportedly left more than 14,500 Palestinians dead.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that it received 1,283 requests for help and reports of bigotry toward Arabs and Muslims since the beginning of October, account for a 216 per cent increase when compared to the same period in 2022.

The Anti-Defamation League has reported a nearly 400 per cent jump in antisemitic incidents when compared to the same time in 2022.

On Thursday, the LAPD began investigating a demonstration outside the house of AIPAC president Michael Tuchin's home. The LAPD is reportedly considering treating the incident as a hate crime.

Shortly after the war began, a Palestinian-American boy, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was stabbed and killed, allegedly by his family's landlord, who had reportedly argued with the boy's mother about the conflict in Israel just before the attack.

Approximately a week before the three Palestinian students were shot, a Muslim man selling goods outside a mosque in Providence, Rhode Island, was shot and wounded.

“The hate crimes against Palestinians must stop,” Mr Zomlot wrote on X/Twitter. “Palestinians everywhere need protection.”

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