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No hate crime charge against suspect in New York stabbing of Asian man

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A man accused of stabbing an Asian man Thursday outside the federal courthouse in the Chinatown neighborhood of New York City was arraigned Saturday on charges including attempted murder.

Salman Muflihi, 23, was arraigned on charges of second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon, court records show.

Although the New York Police Department said Friday that Muflihi would be charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, no hate crime charges have been filed against him, according to court records.

In response to questions as to why Muflihi was not charged with a hate crime, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said in a statement: “We are continuing to investigate and may bring additional charges if warranted.”

Judge Anne Swern set bail at $500,000, and Muflihi’s next court date is March 3, said Casey Murphy, a press officer for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

Police said the 36-year-old Asian man was walking on the sidewalk at around 6:20 p.m. Thursday when he was approached from behind by an attacker who stabbed him in the torso before fleeing.

Muflihi was arrested at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, according to New York police. He is accused of stabbing the man with a large kitchen knife, according to Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Adam Johnson.

CNN has reached out to Muflihi’s attorney for comment.

The Asian man suffered multiple injuries including a punctured liver and significant internal bleeding, according to Muflihi’s criminal complaint.

Johnson said Saturday that doctors removed one of the man’s kidneys and his adrenal gland, and he remains hospitalized in critical condition.

The victim never saw who stabbed him and does not know why he was attacked, but there are witnesses who saw the attack happen, Johnson said.

“This case is every New Yorker’s worst nightmare … to be attacked by a complete and total stranger with a large knife for no reason at all,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Muflihi allegedly walked into the Manhattan District Attorney’s office Thursday evening and told security that he had just “stabbed a guy up the block.”

According to the criminal complaint, Muflihi told a police officer, “If he dies, he dies. I don’t give a f**k.”

Muflihi faces of minimum of five years and a maximum of 25 years in state prison if convicted on the current charges, Johnson said.

Muflihi has a prior conviction for third-degree assault and is facing another open third-degree assault charge for an incident in Brooklyn, according to Johnson.

The stabbing is the latest violent incident against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The string of recent attacks across the country has Asian communities on high alert and has galvanized a movement to denounce the assaults.

On Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio commented on the stabbing incident, calling it a “horrible act of violence against an Asian American man out of nowhere, just pure hatred.”

“What an injustice on every level,” he said. The Asian community “has been through so much and suffered so much discrimination during the Covid era.”

De Blasio encouraged the public to attend a rally Saturday afternoon at Federal Plaza in New York City to “support this effort in any and every way, because we have to stop hate.”

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