NEW YORK (APP): Maryam Khan, a Pakistan-born member of the House of Representatives of the US state of Connecticut, was attacked after attending Eid ul Azha prayers with her family on Wednesday in the state’s capital city of Hartford, officials said.
A 30-year-old man is facing assault charges in connection with the incident, according to the police.
Representative Maryam Khan, her three children, her sister, and a friend were approached by a man who made “vulgar and obscene remarks” and then “grabbed and hit her and threw her to the ground,” according to the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The Hartford Police Department did not name the public official in a statement on the incident but said the suspect approached a woman and began making “unwanted advances.”
The suspect, who police named as Andrey Desmond, then tried to prevent her from leaving the area and assaulted her. She suffered minor injuries, according to police.
After the assault, the suspect fled and was chased by civilian bystanders. The bystanders detained the suspect until police arrived, police said.
Desmond was arrested and is facing charges of third-degree assault, second-degree unlawful restraint, second-degree breach of peace and interfering with police, police said.
Meanwhile, Connecticut House Speaker Matt Ritter and Majority Leader Jason Rojas condemned the attack.
“We know Rep. Maryam Khan was attacked and injured outside the Eid ul Azha prayer ceremony at the XL Center in Hartford,” the statement said.
“We currently do not have details of the assault and will hold off on commenting further until we do. State Capitol Police have assured us they will work with Hartford Police to conduct a full and thorough investigation. It is especially painful that Rep. Khan was attacked on a holy day of peace and prayer. On a day she should spend with her friends and family. Rep. Khan is an amazing leader and person who is committed to faith, love and service – we are sending our well-wishes and support to Maryam and her family.”
“It’s disturbing to me that this happened on a holy day meant to be marked with peaceful prayer,” Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said in a statement Wednesday. “The details of the assault are still unfolding but I know our law enforcement personnel will conduct a thorough investigation into what happened.”
Farhan Memon, chairman of CAIR’s Connecticut chapter, urged law enforcement to “investigate a possible bias motive” and “to ensure the safety of the Connecticut Muslim community during the ongoing Eid ul Azha celebrations.”
“All too often we have seen American Muslims, or those perceived to be Muslim, targeted by hate because of their attire, race or ethnicity,” Memon said.
Rep Maryam Khan, 33, is the first Muslim member of the Connecticut House of Representatives and only the second elected to the state’s General Assembly behind Senator Saud Anwar.