Press Releases

CAIR-NY Welcomes Arrest in Islamophobic, Pro-Trump Attack at JFK Airport

chapter logos newyork(NEW YORK, NY, 1/27/17) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), a leading New York advocacy group for Muslim civil rights, today welcomed an arrest in the apparent Islamophobic hate attack on a Muslim airline employee at JFK Airport.

According to police, Robin A. Rhodes, 57, of Worchester, Mass., attacked a female Muslim employee in her office at the Delta Sky Lounge. The victim wears and Islamic head scarf, or hijab, in observance of her faith.

According to police, Rhodes first asked the victim “Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?â€Â  Next, Rhodes threatened to kick the victim in the “[expletive deleted] ass,†and kicked the victim in the leg. 

Rhodes next stepped into the victim’s office, blocking the door.  When the victim was able to escape, Rhodes followed her, shouting: ” Islam, ISIS, Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens.”

“No election or president gives bigots the right to attack Americans going about their daily business and observing their faith,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR-NY. “New York’s airports are a gateway to travelers from around the world.  They should showcase our diversity and religious freedom, not bigotry and hate.”

“We’re grateful to our law enforcement partners for their quick response to this disturbing attack,†said CAIR-NY Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn. “For every one hatemonger, we know that there are thousands of New Yorkers who stand in support of their Muslim neighborsâ€

The attack came at the same time that thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Washington Square Park to support Muslim and undocumented New Yorkers.  The peaceful rally, which drew more than 3,000 demonstrators to Washington Square Park, opposed the very type of violence that unfolded just a few miles away at JFK.

This arrest was just the latest in a string of violent hate crimes in the New York region.  Earlier this week, CAIR-NY welcomed the arrest of Andrew M. Plachecki for violently attacking a New Paltz, NY, Cab driver.  Plachecki, who works as a corrections officer in Rockland county, NY, was charged with multiple felony hate crimes after allegedly holding a gun to the head of a Muslim cab driver and calling him a “motherf—ing piece of Muslim sh-t.â€

That same day, CAIR-NY welcomed an arrest in a hate attack on a Brooklyn priest.  As a civil rights organization, CAIR-NY is committed to speaking out whenever any New Yorkers are targeted on the basis of their faith.  In that matter, the alleged perpetrator shouted racial slurs, spat on the victim, and brandished a baseball bat.

Similarly, CAIR-NY condemned a bomb threat last week against a Syracuse Jewish Community Center.  The threat, which was made by telephone, forced the center to evacuate its facility and conduct a sweep with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Additionally, late last month, CAIR’s national office expressed solidarity with Montana’s Jewish communities after neo-Nazis announced plans to stage an armed, anti-Semitic march in that state.  In that case, a leader of the neo-Nazi movement announced plans for the hate march in Whitefish, Montana “against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either.â€

Muslim community members are asked to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR-NY at (646) 665-7599, or by filing a report at:   CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.  

– END –  

CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006,; Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn, 571-766-6273,

Share on facebook
Share on twitter