Community shaken by murder of Pakistani physician in US

Published October 31, 2023
Dr Talat Jahan Khan, a physician of Pakistani origin, was stabbed to death in her apartment complex in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday. — X/ @m_medhaat
Dr Talat Jahan Khan, a physician of Pakistani origin, was stabbed to death in her apartment complex in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday. — X/ @m_medhaat

WASHINGTON: The Association of Pakistani Physicians in North America (APPNA) said on Monday that it’s looking at all angles to determine the cause of an apparent hate-inspired murder of a Pakistani pediatrician in a Texas town, this weekend.

Dr Talat Jahan Khan, a physician of Pakistani origin, was stabbed to death in her apartment complex in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday. The assailant, 24-year-old Miles Joseph Friedrich, fled the scene after the attack, but was later arrested.

“We are absolutely shocked at this gruesome murder,” said APPNA’s President Dr Arshad Rehan. “APPNA has lost one of its own.”

Offering APPNA’s ‘deepest condolences’ to the bereaved family, Dr Rehan added: “We have instructed our counsel to get in touch with the local authorities and will be following the case very closely.”

Dr Talat Jahan was stabbed to death in her apartment complex

“Yes, indeed,” said Dr Rao Kamran Ali, an APPNA member from Texas, when asked if the Muslim and Pakistani communities in the region were worried. “If the motive is not clear it means each Muslim or Pakistani is a potential victim,” he added.

The reasons behind the brutal assault remain unclear, and the authorities have found no prior connection between Friedrich and Dr Khan.

But a Muslim advocacy group in Texas — the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — said it was closely monitoring the case, and “remains vigilant to any potential indications of a hate crime”.

A CAIR statement noted that the police had not yet released a motive for the killing, but “we want to assure everyone that we are in conversation with law enforcement agencies”.

The Muslim advocacy group said it too was “unsure at this moment if this was a hate crime; however, given the tragic circumstances, we are paying very close attention to the investigation”.

CAIR said it had launched its own investigation and encouraged “the community to be vigilant and to keep the family in your Du’aa during this difficult time”.

Mohammad Ayubi, Associate Director of the Al Ansaar Mosque where Dr Khan was a regular visitor, also urged the community to remain calm and wait for the investigations’ result. The center is considering additional security measures to ensure the safety of its congregation.

The physician was sitting at a picnic table outside her apartment complex when the assailant approached her, Dr Khan’s neighbours, who witnessed the attack, told police.

Matthew Amador, a neighbour who works as a firefighter, said he grabbed his Katana sword when he realised what was happening and ran after the suspect. “When I got there, he was checking her pulse and then stabbed her three more times before running away” from the scene, Mr Amador said.

About 17 people walked out of their homes with guns, according to NBC’s Click2Houston and were searching for the suspect when the police showed up.

Neighbours and relatives said they had never seen Friedrich before the attack and the victim, apparently, had no connection with him.

Dr Khan had recently relocated from Seattle to Texas and was already popular among her patients and neighbours because of her kind nature and “unwavering dedication to her profession”, her neighbours said.

Local media reports noted that the Conroe community was still reeling from the shock and had called for increased security measures to prevent such incidents.

Dr Khan, who worked with Texas Children’s Pediatrics, is survived by a 14-year-old daughter and a 23-year-old son.

Hate crimes against both Muslims and Jews have increased across America because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Earlier this month, a six-year-old Palestinian-American was stabbed 26 times in Chicago “for being a Muslim,” police said. His mom couldn’t go to his funeral because she was stabbed, too.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2023

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