Jan. 4, 2016 By Christian Murray
A 55-year-old Florida man was indicted on hate crime charges today after allegedly attacking a Muslim store owner in Astoria last month while uttering the words “I kill Muslims,” according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.
Piro Kolvani, from Jacksonville, allegedly entered Fatima Food Mart, located at 21-37 21st Avenue, and after walking around the store and asking for free items began striking Sarker Haque in the face while proclaiming “I kill Muslims.”
Haque, who is from Bangladesh and has lived in Astoria for three decades, sustained a cut to his lip as well as bruising and swelling on the left side of his face. The incident allegedly took place on Saturday, December 5 at around 1 pm.
Kolvani was arraigned today on a four-count indictment charging him with third-degree assault as a hate crime, third-degree assault, second-degree aggravated harassment and second-degree harassment, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on February 11, 2016.
If convicted, Kolvani faces up to four years in prison.
“The defendant is accused of striking a Muslim man in an unprovoked attack early last month after proclaiming he ‘kills Muslims,’” said Queens District Attorney Richard A Brown in a statement. “The victim was allegedly punched in the face and lefty bloody and bruised. This kind of ignorance and intolerance is unacceptable.”
Kolvani was originally arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge shortly after the incident last month.
“I was heartened to learn that the criminal who viciously attacked Sarker Haque has been rearrested and charged with a hate crime,” said Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who organized a rally in support of the Haque last month, in a statement. “These felony charges reflect the serious nature of the crime against Mr. Haque and state unequivocally that hate and violence have no home in our community.”