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Woman Wearing a Bandana Robbed, Called a 'Hijab Wearing B****'

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
Contributing Writer
Photo: Screenshot/NBC

A woman wearing a bandana on a hike was left a note calling her a“Hijab Wearing B****” in California’s Bay Area last week, according to NBC. The note also said, “this is our nation now get the f*** out.”

Niki Pancholy, who has lupus and uses a headscarf when outdoors to help manage her medical condition and extreme sensitivity to heat, returned from a hike to find her car vandalized and burglarizedPancholy is not Muslim and her headscarf was not a hijab, a garment worn as part of religious veiling as a sign of modesty by some Muslim women. She was also born in the United States. 

“When I saw it, I was in shock,” she said. “That someone would feel so much hate to do this. I realize that this is the climate after this election. But I didn’t realize someone would be so ignorant and in so much pain to cause so much harm.”

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there were 5,850 hate crimes in the U.S. last year — a 7 percent increase in incidences from the previous year — including a 67 percent increase in crimes targeting Muslim-Americans. And such crimes seem to be on the rise again following the election of President-elect Donald Trump recently. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that monitors hate groups and their actions, there have been 701 incidents of hateful harassment in the United States since the morning after Trump won. 

Pancholy’s not alone in being targeted for wearing a headscarf in the past few weeks. A 19-year old San Jose State University student was assaulted in a parking garage on campus as someone grabbed her hijab from behind and choking her. Then there’s the female Muslim student at San Diego State University who was robbed and had her car stolen by two men who made comments about President-elect Trump and Muslims before taking the woman’s bag and car keys. A hijabi student at the University of New Mexico also reported being attacked on campus the week following Trump’s election as she had her hijab pulled off her head in the university’s library by a classmate wearing a Donald Trump t-shirt, who then directed an anti-Muslim hate-speech-filled rant at the woman.

Zainen Abdullah, who teaches self-defense classes to women, says she has received an influx of requests from Muslim women for such classes since Trump’s election — and, specifically, for maneuvers that these women may use if someone tries to attack them by pulling her hijab. A video Abdullah posted to Facebook instructing viewers how to perform some such moves has gone viral, receiving 3.5 million views within a week of it being posted. In addition to self-defense classes, Abdullah now also offers an intensive Hate Crime Survival Seminar.

Many people are reporting incidents of hijab-pulling on social media — and expressing their support for hijabi women, too.

This spate of attacks against women wearing headscarves comes in the wake of increased visibility, inclusion, and elevation of Muslim women in the worlds of style and pop culture. On Friday night, the first hijabi woman anchored a Canadian television news broadcast and earlier this month CoverGirl named Muslim beauty blogger — and hijabi woman — Nura Afia as its latest ambassador. 

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