Report: University of Michigan student told to remove her hijab or be set on fire

It was one of three hate-related campus incidents over the weekend.

88CREDIT: Flickr/University of Michigan
88CREDIT: Flickr/University of Michigan

UPDATE: Police now believe this claim to be false, citing their inability to corroborate the student’s story with eyewitness accounts or surveillance camera footage.

A student at the University of Michigan was reportedly accosted by a man last Friday who demanded she remove her hijab and threatened to set her on fire.

According to the Washington Post, the student told Ann Arbor police that the man approached her just off campus. The man, who was reportedly a white male between the ages of 20 and 30, threatened her with a lighter and instructed she remove her traditional Islamic head covering.

The frightened student told police that she complied, and then left.

“We do consider this a hate crime,” Diane Brown, spokesperson for UM’s Division of Public Safety and Security, told The Washington Post.

“We do consider this a hate crime.”

Students have reported other hateful incidents at the school since Donald Trump—who promoted Islamophobic polices during his campaign—won the 2016 presidential election. On Saturday, another student was allegedly approached by two men who yelled at her for “being in America” before referencing her religion and pushing her down a hill. Yet another student told authorities he found a swastika drawn on his apartment door.


The student body has held vigils to protest the uptick in violence, with the student newspaper reporting that around 300 gathered Monday evening to participate in Islamic prayer. Male Muslim students on campus have also begun wearing the kufi, a traditional headwear for Muslim men, in solidarity with woman who face threats, and University President Mark Schlissel sent out an email condemning the incidents.

“We hope all members of our community can agree that we must not stand silent while facing expressions of bigotry, discrimination or hate that have become part of our national political discourse,” he wrote.

The incidents appear to be part of a nationwide surge in hate-related incidents since Trump’s election. Incidents of Islamophobia were already at record highs before Trump’s election—spiking 67 percent in the latest FBI reports—but cases of violence against American Muslims have ballooned since last Tuesday, with some citing Trump as inspiration while threatening or harassing members of the faith.

Worse, hateful incidents have increased across the board: the Southern Poverty Law Center told ThinkProgress on Monday they have received more than 300 reports of “hate incidents” over the past seven days—including attacks on churches, Jews, and people of color.

That number is reportedly more akin the number they typically receive in a five to six month span.