Title: Three College Students of Palestinian Descent Shot and Wounded in Apparent Hate Crime
Three college students of Palestinian descent were shot and wounded in Burlington, Vermont, as they were on their way to a family dinner. The victims have been identified as Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ahmed, and Kinnan Abdalhamid, all undergraduate students at prestigious institutions such as Brown, Haverford, and Trinity.
The incident occurred on Saturday evening near the University of Vermont campus, leaving the community in shock. While authorities have not disclosed the motive behind the shooting, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee strongly believes it was motivated by the victims’ Arab identity. At the time of the attack, the victims were wearing Palestinian keffiyehs and speaking Arabic.
Despite an ongoing investigation, the police have yet to apprehend any suspects and have urged the public to assist by providing any relevant information. To encourage cooperation, the Council on American Islamic Relations (Cair) National is offering a $10,000 reward for leads that lead to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator(s).
Reacting to the shocking incident, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders expressed deep distress and called for a thorough investigation. The families of the victims are also urging authorities to treat the incident as a hate crime. The Ramallah Friends School, where the victims graduated from, extended their thoughts and prayers for their recovery.
Basil Awartani, a cousin of one of the victims, strongly asserts that the attack was a hate crime specifically targeting Arabic speakers and individuals wearing kuffiyehs. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been made aware of the incident and will intervene if any federal violations are discovered during the local investigation.
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation and continues to monitor developments closely. This shooting comes amid growing concerns about Islamophobia and antisemitism in the United States following the recent Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Organizations such as Cair and the Anti-Defamation League have both reported significant increases in requests for help and reports of bias and hate crimes.
Unfortunately, similar incidents have occurred in recent times, including the shooting of a man outside a mosque in Rhode Island and the tragic killing of a child in Illinois. These events contribute to rising unease within the Muslim community. Palestinian authorities and advocates worldwide are calling for an end to hate crimes against Palestinians and increased protection for all individuals of Palestinian descent.
As the investigation continues, it is imperative that society stands united against discrimination and hate crimes, ensuring the safety and protection of all communities, regardless of their background or ethnicity.