Muslim women in US turn to self-defence to combat ‘hijab grab’

Many Muslim women have posted on social media describing 'hijab grab' attacks.

By: PTI | Washington | Published:November 22, 2016 6:10 pm
Muslims, Muslim womwn, US, United ststes, Muslim Women US, US muslim women, Muslim hijab, Hijab grab, Hijab grab complaints, Hijab grab incidents, Donald Trump, Trump victory, US news, world news The 24-year-old — who wears a hijab and stands just over 5 feet tall — told the Post that she is used to feeling the need to protect herself. (Representational photo)

Many Muslim women across the US have turned to self-defence classes amid a spike in ‘hijab- grab’ incidents following Donald Trump’s electoral triumph, according to a media report. In the days following Trump’s election, at least three organisations — the Southern Poverty Law Center, Council of American-Islamic Relations and Anti-Defamation League — tracked a notable spike in hate-crime incidents, The Washington Post reported.

Many Muslim women have posted on social media describing ‘hijab grab’ attacks.

A number of other Muslim women in cities across the country have been organising self-defense classes in response to the post election rhetoric and apparent spike in hate crimes, the report said.

Zaineb Abdulla, who has been teaching basic self-defence classes in Chicago to help other women, was quoted as saying that she was about 8-years-old the first time someone spit on her for being Muslim.

The 24-year-old — who wears a hijab and stands just over 5 feet tall — told the Post that she is used to feeling the need to protect herself.

Through her role as vice president of an organisation called ‘Deaf Planet Soul’ in Chicago, Abdulla has been teaching basic self-defence classes to help other women — including those who are deaf or who wear a hijab.

The morning after Trump won the presidency, a number of Muslim women called Abdulla, asking her for a specific type of self-defence training– ‘What could they do if someone tried to grab them by their headscarves?’

That same Wednesday, and in the days that followed, Muslim women in cities across the country reported being targeted for wearing hijabs.

Abdulla immediately recruited help from a trainer, Misho Ceko, of Chicago Mixed Martial Arts, to teach women a set of moves to defend themselves in case someone tries to pull on their hijabs.

On the Sunday after the election day, Abdulla taught nine mostly Muslim women a two-hour ‘hate crime survival seminar’, during which they learned how to escape a ‘hijab grab’, how to identify and report hate crimes, and what steps to follow as a bystander.

“It gives us confidence,” Abdulla said of the self-defence classes. The classes help women realise that “if someone grabs you, you have the ability and the right to fight back,” she said.

In Memphis, a Muslim activist named Kalimah Azeez met with local police officials to plan a self-defence course at a local mosque, McClatchy reported.

Participants will be able to learn ‘escape and evade tactics’ and watch video tutorials on how to use an emergency-response app to record an attack and alert the authorities. Other women are seeking out tools to help them feel a sense of security, the report said.