Sunday, January 28, 2007

Palestinians students attacked in North Carolina, USA

Associated Press Sports
Updated: 9:47 a.m. ET Jan. 26, 2007
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -The parents of three Guilford College football players charged with ethnic intimidation defended their sons Friday, nearly a week after an on-campus fight between the players and three Palestinian students.

The parents of Michael Bates, Michael Robert Six and Christopher Barnette issued a statement Friday, asking the public to "withhold judgment" until an investigation was completed. The statement said Six was attacked with a belt by one of the accusers but didn't offer further details.

Five players face charges of assault and ethnic intimidation in connection with a fight Saturday. The charges do not reflect results of a police investigation.

The charges were approved by a magistrate judge after a complaint was filed by the victims - Guilford College students Faris Khader and Osama Sabbah and North Carolina State student Omar Awartani, who was visiting Greensboro from Raleigh.

The Palestinian men said they were taunted with racial slurs and called terrorists as they were beaten and kicked, according to court documents.

Lawyer Seth Cohen said his clients didn't do anything wrong and didn't provoke the attack.

"They were minding their own business,'' Cohen said.

The FBI is investigating to determine whether a hate crime was committed, FBI spokesman Tim Stutheit said.

Bates, Six and Barnette were arrested Monday on misdemeanor charges. Two other players, Jonathan Underwood and Jazz Favors, were charged Thursday. Underwood also faces one count of communicating threats.

An Arab-American group blamed growing bigotry against Arabs for an attack on three Palestinian students on a North Carolina college campus.

The students at Guilford College in Greensboro allegedly were kicked and beaten with brass knuckles by 15 members of the college football team last Saturday. "There is a need for national recognition that the effect of negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims has created a dangerous environment where incidents like this can occur," the Arab American Institute said in a statement. It particularly blamed calls by some North Carolina state officials to intern Arab Americans.

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