Queens, NY – A Jewish woman and her adult daughter are recovering after being assaulted on Thursday in Queens by a man who mistakenly thought they were Muslim.
Police said that the two women, ages 57 and 37, had gotten off a northbound M train at the 67th Avenue station in Rego Park when they were accosted by a man who said “get out of my country you dirty Muslims.”
When the younger of the two women questioned the man about his remarks, he spat in her face and punched her repeatedly in the body before punching the older woman in the lower lip.
The man, identified as 40 year old Dimitrios Zias, was arrested at the scene and charged with two counts of assault as a hate crime. DNA Info (http://dnain.fo/2facCGu) reported that Zias asked police if he was being arrested because he was “rich and white.”
According to The Daily News (http://nydn.us/2fas5q7)the daughter told police that she believed that it was her mother’s head covering that likely gave Zias the mistaken impression that they were Muslim.
The incident took place just blocks away from several synagogues.
“I never expected it would happen in this neighborhood,” said the daughter.
Zias was arraigned on Thursday and held on $50,000 bail. He is due back in court on September 27th.
Police denied reports that Zias was drunk at the time of the incident. Zias had been previously arrested in 2015 after he was caught on an escalator using his cell phone to shoot footage under a woman’s skirt. He was sentenced to five years probation in that incident after he pleaded guilty to felony unlawful surveillance.
At a September 6th pre-Rosh Hashana event at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Captain Mark Molinari, head of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force, said that hate crimes have been on the rise in the city, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years, reported the Queens Tribune (http://bit.ly/2f9O4NF).
According to Molinari, anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen at a slightly higher rate than other bias incidents, with only two of the 109 incidents reported involving physical assaults. Molinari noted that he is unhappy with any rise in hate crimes.
“I don’t like anything going up,” said Molinari. “I think zero is too many. I like negative numbers.”
Officers will be assigned to area synagogues during the upcoming Jewish holidays, with NYPD Chief of Queens Patrol Borough North Juanita Holmes vowing to “kick it up a notch” this year.