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Greek Priest Mistaken for Arab, Attacked by Reservist

A U.S. Marine reservist stands accused of attacking a Greek priest he mistook for an Arab. Lance Cpl. Jasen Bruce, 28, is accused of attacked the Rev. Alexios Marakis, 29, with a tire iron.
Democracy Now! reported that Bruce told police that Marakis was a terrorist. According to the report, police stated that once told Marakis was actually a Greek Orthodox priest, his eyes teared up.
Marakis, who only speaks limited English, apparently became lost after performing the blessing of another priest. When attempting to ask Bruce for help, he was attacked. Marakis has a long beard ; at the time of the incident had been wearing a traditional black clerical robe. Both of those are customary of Greek Orthodox priests.
While these are the reports from police, however, the Associated Press reports that Bruce’s defense attorney has issued a statement stating that Bruce was defending himself from a sexual assault by Alexios Marakis.
Attorney Jeff Brown said, “We are confident that the surveillance videos, the long 911 call, the eyewitnesses will all conclusively show that Lance Cpl. Bruce was attacked and was the victim in this case.” The AP noted that during that press conference, In a Brown referred to Marakis as a “bearded attacker” six times and used his client’s military rank 17 times in an apparent attempt to gain sympathy for his client due to the recent Fort Hood attacks.
This is the sort of reprisal that U.S. Muslims had been fearing, over the Fort Hood attacks allegedly carried out by Major Nidal Malik Hasan, where he killed 13 and inured 30. Yesterday President Obama and the First Lady attended a memorial service for the dead and wounded.
Further emphasizing the possible fear exacerbated by the Fort Hood incident, Tampa Police reported that when officers arrived, Bruce called Marakis a terrorist and said the priest had shouted “Allahu akbar,” the same phrase Hasan allegedly used prior to his attack. It is Arabic for “God is great.”
Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said Bruce had a rambling set of charges against Marakis when officers arrived. He offered several explanations for his tire iron attack. “One was that he tried to rob him. The other was that he was an Arab terrorist and shouted “Allahu akbar” and he explained that ‘That’s what they say before they blow you up.’ And then he said that he grabbed his genitals and wanted to have sex with him. He gave various accounts of what happened.
Bruce has been charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and released from jail on bond.
Marakis was treated at an area hospital and released. Although Marakis speaks limited English, and thus did not appear to understand questions about the attack, Ahmed Bedier, president of the Tampa Human Rights Council, said he had spoken to Marakis, who told him Bruce’s allegations were untrue. “I did not even touch him,” Bedier quoted Marakis as saying.
Bedier called on police to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime.

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