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Muslims being targeted, advocacy group charges

Cambridge man fights off attackers

An Algerian-American from Cambridge was attacked outside a Back Bay restaurant Saturday night, say police and a Muslim advocacy group,the latest of several assaults on Muslims since the ­Boston Marathon bombings three weeks ago.

The assailants allegedly called the 23-year-old college student, Amine Hadjeres, a “terrorist” and told him he looked like Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the suspects accused of planting bombs at the Marathon finish line on April 15, who was later killed while trying to elude police.

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The victim, a US citizen, said he was attacked by two tipsy men outside the Cafeteria Boston restaurant on Newbury Street in Boston about 10 p.m. Saturday night after he left to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Hadjeres said he initially tried to ignore the men, who taunted and shoved him, but wound up brawling with them in the street after they would not leave him alone. He said the fight left him with bloody knuckles and a bruised elbow and hip, but he successfully fought off both men and walked back into the restaurant, where he was greeted with applause.

“They messed with the wrong dude,” Hadjeres said. “Their faces were pretty banged up.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advo­cacy organization, urged state and federal authorities to charge suspects with violating hate crime laws.

“We urge local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to take the suspects in this case into custody and to bring appropriate charges that reflect the apparent bias motive,” said council spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

Police told the council the suspects have been identified, but not yet arrested.

The council said the incident was just the latest attack on Muslims since the Marathonbombings. A Muslim taxi driver was allegedly attacked in Virginia a week ago by a passenger who accused him of carrying out the Boston attack.

In Malden, a mother of Middle Eastern descent who was wearing an Islamic head scarf called a hijab, was attacked two weeks ago by a man shouting anti-Muslim slurs, the council said.

Boston police spokeswoman Cheryl Fiandaca said the Newbury Street assault is being handled by its civil rights unit, which investigates potential hate crimes.

The Suffolk district attorney’s office said it has assigned a senior prosecutor to work with Boston police on any potential charges, but has not seen a pattern of similar crimes in the area.

“Even one [attack] is too many, but, fortunately, we have not seen a great deal of similar assaults in Boston,” said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.

The US attorney’s office vowed to work with the FBI, Boston police, and the state attorney general’s office “to ensure the matter is fully investigated and prosecuted, should the facts demonstrate a hate crime.

According to a redacted copy of the police report, police responded to a radio call about 10 p.m. Saturday about a fight at the intersection of Newbury Street and Gloucester Street, where the Cafeteria Boston restaurant is located.

Two witnesses said they saw two men verbally and physically harass another man, calling him a “terrorist.”

The victim told police that one of his assailants told him: “You’re a terrorist. You look like [Tamerlan Tsarnaev]. The FBI is going to get people like you.”

The police report also suggested some of the people involved in the fight had been drinking.

Hadjeres said he was shocked to be called a foreigner and a terrorist, since he is an American.

“You can’t call me that,” he said, adding that he immigrated to the US when he was 7. “This is where I am from.”

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @twallack.
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