The mother of one of the Palestinian American college students who were shot near the University of Vermont believes that the incident was a targeted hate crime. Tamara Tamimi, the mother of Kinnan Abdalhamid, expressed her certainty that the men were intentionally targeted because of their ethnic background and called for the shooting to be treated as a hate crime.
The incident occurred when three Palestinian American men, Kinnan Abdalhamid, Hisham Awartani, and Tahseen Ali Ahmad, were shot on the streets of Burlington. Although only two of them were wearing kaffiyehs, a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, at the time, Tamimi insists that their ethnicity and language played a significant role in the attack.
In an interview with a reputable news source, Tamimi revealed that her son and his friends had previously been in the same neighborhood without any issues. However, during the shooting, the assailant looked at them, did a double take, and pulled out a gun.
Tamimi strongly believes that the shooter’s actions defy logic and that there is no other reasonable explanation for the attack other than it being a hate crime. She would be disappointed if the act of violence is not treated as such.
The suspect, Jason J. Eaton, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of second-degree attempted murder. Prosecutors are now determining whether to classify the shootings as hate crimes.
While Eaton’s attorney, Margaret Jansch, refrained from commenting on the possibility of hate crime charges, Vermont’s hate crimes statute, which covers crimes motivated by protected categories like race, color, religion, and national origin, has the potential to enhance penalties for such offenses.
This incident follows a global rise in tensions, exacerbated by recent terror attacks in Israel and Gaza. Discrimination against Islam and anti-Semitic incidents have increased in response to these attacks.
The victims, who have been friends since attending school in the occupied West Bank, currently study at separate colleges in the United States. They reported to police that while walking near the University of Vermont campus, an unknown white male approached them with a gun and began shooting.
Another mother, Elizabeth Price, spoke about her son Hisham Awartani’s condition. He is paralyzed from the midtorso downwards, as a result of an incomplete spinal injury.
Price is hopeful about Awartani’s prognosis as he prepares for intensive rehabilitation. She believes that the suspect dehumanized her son and his friends and asserts that the toxic rhetoric against Palestinians likely played a part in the shooter’s motive.
Price stated that the suspect intended to take their lives because he believed they were not deserving of life.
Awartani and Abdalhamid are U.S. citizens, while Ali Ahmad is a legal U.S. resident. Price mentioned that her son and his friends have also been frustrated by the disproportionate attention they received compared to the ongoing situation in Gaza, where Palestinians have been ignored and forgotten. Additionally, Awartani reminded his mother that many people with his name have died in Gaza.
Awartani, a junior at Brown University, was shot in the spine, while Abdalhamid, a student at Haverford College, was shot in the glute. Ali Ahmad, who attends Trinity College in Connecticut, was shot in the chest.
Although Abdalhamid has been discharged from the hospital, he is still struggling emotionally and experiencing difficulties with eating and sleeping.