Donald Trump Supporter Charged With Hate Crimes Against Muslim Airport Worker

JFK airport
The international arrival terminal pictured at JFK airport in New York. A supporter of Donald Trump has been charged with hate crimes for allegedly assaulting a Muslim airport worker. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

A Donald Trump supporter has been charged with hate crimes for allegedly assaulting a Muslim employee and telling her the new U.S. president would "get rid of all of you."

A Thursday statement from the Queens County District Attorney Richard Brown identified the man as Robin A. Rhodes, 57, from Worchester, Massachusetts.

According to the statement, the incident occurred at an airport lounge in John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York on Wednesday evening. Rhodes approached a female Muslim employee of Delta Air Lines, Rabeeya Khan, who was sitting in her office, wearing the hijab head-covering.

In an apparently unprovoked attack, Rhodes asked Khan what she was doing. "Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?" he said, according to the statement. Rhodes reportedly punched the door, which hit the back of Khan's chair.

The accused then physically assaulted Khan, kicking her in the right leg, and barricaded her in her office. After a bystander intervened and Khan escaped her office, Rhodes followed her and got down on his knees, imitating a Muslim praying, the statement said.

"[Expletive deleted] Islam, [expletive deleted] ISIS, 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 will see what happens," Rhodes is alleged to have shouted at Khan. ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State militant group.

Rhodes has been charged with hate crime, assault, harassment and unlawful imprisonment. He faces a maximum four-year prison term if convicted.

"The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society," Attorney Brown said.

Hate crimes against minorities, including Muslims, have spiked after the election of Trump, who has taken a hardline stance on immigration and Islamist extremism. A November 2016 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama, recorded 867 hate incidents in the 10 days following Trump's victory on November 8, 2016, with Muslim women wearing hijabs identified as "particularly vulnerable to threats and assault."

In one of his first moves since entering office, Trump has proposed a draft executive order which would suspend U.S. visas for residents of several Middle Eastern and African countries that are seen as hotbeds of extremism, including Syria, Iraq and Somalia.