A Muslim woman visiting New York City was set on fire over the weekend while standing in the street, an incident local police are investigating as a possible hate crime.
As first reported by the New York Daily News, the victim was a Scottish woman wearing traditional Muslim grab who was standing outside a boutique Saturday on Fifth Avenue. The woman, who remains unidentified, reportedly noticed her sleeve was suddenly smoldering. She was able to put out the flames and walk away unharmed, but her assailant escaped.
According to Fusion, the NYPD is searching for the suspect, and the Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating whether the incident—which took place shortly before the anniversary of the September 11 attacks—was fueled by anti-Muslim hatred.
“[The victim] saw [the suspect] pull a lighter away and walk away,” a police source told the New York Daily News. “He doesn’t say anything.”
“[The victim] saw [the suspect] pull a lighter away and walk away.”
The incident was one of at least three anti-Muslim attacks that took place over the last few days, two in New York City alone. Last Thursday, a woman allegedly tried to rip off hijabs worn by two Muslim women in Brooklyn, yelling, “this is the United States of America, you’re not supposed to be different from us.” And in Florida, the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce was set on fire in what authorities believe to be an attempted arson. The center, which was once attended by the man who murdered 49 people at a gay nightclub in June, has been subject to multiple attacks and threats since the massacre. Community leaders were left pleading for local police to provide a security detail, but ultimately hired their own private guards.
The accounts are harrowing, but are simply the latest in a string of anti-Muslim attacks that have plagued the American Islamic community over the past year—especially during this volatile election season, which has seen a sharp rise of Islamophobic rhetoric. ThinkProgress has been tracking the incidents—which include threats, assaults, protests, firings, airport profiling cases, and instances of vandalism—since they spiked late last year in the aftermath of the ISIS-affiliated terrorist attacks in Paris. Our count currently stands at 106.
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