Worcester man accused of attacking Muslim airline employee

NEW YORK (AP) — A Massachusetts man is accused of attacking a Muslim airline employee at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, allegedly kicking and shouting obscenities at the woman and telling her that President Donald Trump “will get rid of all of you,” authorities said.

The Queens District Attorney’s Office said Robin Rhodes, of Worcester, had arrived from Aruba and was awaiting a connecting flight to Massachusetts Wednesday night when he approached Delta employee Rabeeya Khan, who wears a hijab, while she was sitting in her office.

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Rhodes came up to the door and went on a profanity-laced tirade, asking the woman if she was praying. Rhodes then allegedly punched the door, which hit the back of Khan’s chair. Khan asked Rhodes what she had done to him and Rhodes replied, “You did nothing.” He then cursed at her and kicked her in the leg, Brown said.

When another person tried to calm him down, Brown said Rhodes moved away from the door and Khan ran out of the office. Rhodes followed her, got down on his knees and began to bow down in imitation of a Muslim praying, shouted obscenities and said “Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You see what happens,” Brown said.

At the time of his arrest, Rhodes allegedly told police, “I guess I am going to jail for disorderly conduct. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because their back was to me and they had something covering their head.”

Rhodes was charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment as hate crimes. It was not immediately clear if he has an attorney who can comment on the charges.

“The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society — especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation,” Brown said. “Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”

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