Hate Crimes Rise as NYC Muslim Woman Set on Fire the Night Before 9/11

Hate Crimes Rise as NYC Muslim Woman Set on Fire the Night Before 9/11

A 36-year-old Muslim woman had her blouse set on fire, Saturday night while standing outside of NYC’s Fifth Avenue Valentino store. The woman recalls a man setting her blouse on fire, and then fleeing the scene.

She was able to contain the flames herself, and was left unharmed. No arrests have been made. The NYPD Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the incident to establish whether it was an anti-Muslim hate crime. At the time of the attack, the woman was reported to have been wearing “traditional Muslim clothing.”

The incident occurred the night before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, and two days prior to the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Islamophobic attacks and intimidation have skyrocketed in the city in the past months. Not unrelated are the climate of anti-Immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric perpetuated by Republican Presidential Nominee, Donald Trump.

“Our data suggests that acts and threats of anti-Muslim violence increased in 2015, and that it has escalated further during the presidential election season.” tweet

Last Thursday, two Muslim mothers and their infants were attacked by a 32-year-old woman, Emirjeta Xhelili, in Brooklyn. The mothers were allegedly punched in the face and body before the attacker tried to rip off their hijab. Xhelili then went to the babies, knocking down a stroller while rattling the other.

The attacker has been known to regularly post Islamophobic and pro-Trump rhetoric on social media outlets. As she attacked the women and their children, she shouted nationalist insults, “Get the f**k out of here. Get the the f**k out of America, b*****s.” She went on to yell, “This is America! You shouldn’t be different from us!” Xhelili has been charged with assault, reckless endangerment of a child, and harassment.

This attack follows the September murder of a 60-year-old Nazma Khanam, in the Muslim epicenter of Jamaica, Queens, and the August murders of an NYC Imam and his colleague leaving prayers at a Queens mosque.

The Bridge Initiative of Georgetown University has reported that 2015 saw more anti-Muslim hate crimes since 9/11.

Engy Abdelkader, a member of the U.S. State Department Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group reported, “Our data suggests that acts and threats of anti-Muslim violence increased in 2015, and that it has escalated further during the presidential election season.”

He recently authored a report titled “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 US Presidential Elections.” The Huffington Post launched an Islamophobia tracker in 2016, which has reported more than 230 attacks targeting Muslims in the United States in July alone.

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