A Hindu priest was attacked by a man while he was walking down the street in his religious garb near a temple in Floral Park, New York, according to a U.S. media report.
Swami Harish Chander Puri said that around 11 a.m. (local time) on July 18, near the Shiv Shakti Peeth in Glen Oaks, while he was walking, a man came up from behind and started hitting him, a local news channel reported. Puri said he was beaten so badly, he had to be rushed to the hospital.
The priest suffered bruises and abrasions all over his body, including his face, in the attack. “I’m in a little pain,” the priest was quoted as saying by the channel.
The police arrested 52-year-old Sergio Gouveia in connection with the attack. He’s being charged with assault, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. The police are looking into whether the attack should be investigated as a hate crime, the channel said.
Some of the people who regularly visit the temple said they believe the priest was targeted. The attacker screamed things like, “this is my neighborhood,” during the incident, they said.
The incident comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to target four democratic congresswomen, including Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born U.S. citizen, asking them to “go back” where they came from.