Seven members of an Amish community in Ohio were arrested on early Wednesday morning on hate crime charges following a series of Amish hair-cutting attacks, the U.S Department of Justice said in a statement.
A criminal complaint filed in Cleveland charged seven men with attacking others because of their actual or perceived religion. The maximum potential penalty for these violations is life in prison, the statement said.
According to an affidavit from the Department of Justice, the men forcibly restrained multiple Amish men and cut off their beards and head hair with scissors and battery-powered clippers, injuring them and others who attempted to stop the attacks. In the Amish religion, a man's beard and head hair are sacred.
The spate of assaults, which have received international media coverage, have been blamed on a breakaway Amish group. Among the defendants are breakaway Amish group leader Samuel Muller Sr. and three of his sons, prosecutors said.