SHAFAQNA – A Muslim woman had her blouse set on fire outside an upscale boutique in Manhattan, police sources said.
The 36-year-old woman was wearing traditional Muslim attire and was able to douse the flames herself, in what appears to be the latest anti-Muslim attack in New York City.
Police sources said a man stood nearby the victim with a lighter in his hand. Without speaking to her, the suspect fled the scene, in front of Valentino flagship store on Fifth Avenue. As of Monday night, no arrests have been made.
Now, the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as a potential hate crime.
The attack took place the night before the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. In 2001, anti-Muslim hate crimes surged by 1,600 per cent in 2001, according to the FBI.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, spoke on the importance of the investigation.
“I would obviously be concerned because it’s symptomatic of the overall rise in Islamophobic sentiment in our society,” he told The Daily News. “That’s based on the spike across the country in hate crimes and hate incidents, in recent days and over the past year.”
Two days prior, another incident was reported in Brooklyn where two Muslim women were allegedly attacked while pushing their babies in strollers. Police said the suspect yelled anti-Muslim sentiments at the women such as “get out of America, you don’t belong here” and said they are “not supposed to be different from us.”
Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, allegedly tried to remove the hijab from the women while striking their heads, and at one point, tipped over the stroller and attacked the children. Neither child suffered serious injuries in the attack. Xhelili was later charged with assault, reckless endangerment of a child, and harassment. She is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday and her bail has been set at $50,000.
On Monday, authorities in Florida ruled that the mosque where the Orlando nightclub shooter occasionally worshipped was intentionally set on fire by arsonists.