Austin, Texas
Austin, TexasiStock

Police are saying the stabbing of a Palestinian Arab-American man in Austin, Texas, was a “bias-motivated incident", NBC News reported on Wednesday.

Zacharia Doar, 23, was sitting in the passenger seat of his friend’s car on Sunday when a man opened his door and dragged him to the ground, his father, Nizar Doar, told NBC News.

In the scuffle, the victim saw the man charging his friend with a knife. When he went to protect his friend, he was stabbed in the upper left side of his back, a few inches from his heart, his father said, adding that the knife broke his son's rib.

“He is really, really in a lot of agony and a lot of pain at this moment,” the elder Doar said. “It’s sad to be here. Seeing my son suffering is sad to see.”

The attack occurred around 7:00 p.m., police said, hours after Doar attended a protest in support of Gaza.

Nizar Doar said he believes his son was targeted because the car had a distinctly patterned Palestinian Arab kaffiyeh, tied to a door handle.

The Austin Police Department said Bert James Baker, 36, who is white, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The police department said its Hate Crimes Review Committee “determined the facts of the case meet the definition of a Hate Crime”, adding the Travis County District Attorney’s Office will make the final decision on enhancing the offense to a hate crime.

In late November, three Palestinian Arab men were shot and injured in Burlington, Vermont, in what authorities said could be a hate-related crime.

In mid-October, police charged a 71-year-old suburban Chicago man with a hate crime for fatally stabbing a six-year-old Muslim boy and seriously wounding a 32-year-old woman.

Police said the man singled out both victims because of their Islamic faith and as a response to the war between Israel and Hamas.