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Last year Donald Trump, who is United States’ President-elect, had vehemently asked for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States – a profiling campaign that was targeted towards one religious community. Throughout the election race, Trump vociferously voiced anti-Muslim rhetoric, fostering xenophobic feelings and Islamophobia among his supporters. Since he was voted into power, hate crimes, use of racial offensive language and harassment against minorities have surged, particularly against Muslim women who are easily identified due to their headscarf.
According to Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 700 hate crimes had been reported between November 9 (Election Day) and November 16, 2016. There have been several reports stating that Trump supporters have attempted to intimidate, abuse or physically assault Muslim women. Reports mention that Trump supporters have violently tried to rip off the the religious headscarves. In Kansas, for example, a young girl was intimidated in school by two kids wearing Trump t-shirts, pulling off her hijab. Another woman tweeted, “Guys, a trump supporter tried pulling off my hijab… This is not a joke anymore, all non-whites have become targets. Stay safe.” (http://bit.ly/2gccByn). The atmosphere in America is extremely tense; many Muslim women fear walking in public spaces with hijabs:
My mom literally just texted me “don’t wear the Hijab please” and she’s the most religious person in our family….
— ? (@harryonmen) November 9, 2016
The fact that muslim women are having to consider not wearing hijabs for their own safety is fucking terrifying
— kyra (@akkindaddy) November 9, 2016
In response to the spike in hate crimes against Muslim women, makeshift training camps are being set up to teach hijab-wearing women self defense strategies. In Memphis, for example, Kalimah Azeez is a Muslim activist who charted out a martial arts defense course at a local mosque for the women in her community. Online, Zaineb Zee Abdulla, who is a 24-year-old Muslim woman, released a series of self-defense videos, to educate women how they can defend themselves if they are attacked. Abdulla teamed up with Chicago Mixed Martial Arts group to hold ‘Hate Crime Survival’ seminars. In her Facebook post, she wrote beneath her video, “Learn to defend against a bigot, grabbing your hijab from behind. Self defense is more important than ever. Practice this move until it becomes muscle memory and teach your body to react before thinking.” Other self-defense seminars are emerging across the country as a response to the number of hate crimes taking place. When Trump got elected as the President, Lena Afridi, a New Yorker, held a self-defense workshop for anyone who felt threatened and felt that he/she needed to be trained. Afridi told The Daily Beast that the workshop had over a thousand people interested in it.
The self-defense videos and seminars are necessary as tools for protection and empowerment for women in Trump’s America, a country that is increasingly and terrifyingly becoming bigoted and discriminatory.