A Muslim woman wearing traditional religious attire had been set on fire while shopping in New York City on Saturday night, just hours before the 15-year anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
The victim, a 35-year-old Scottish woman who works as a dentist, was window-shopping just after 9 pm in front of the Valentino store at 693 Fifth Ave., between East 54th and 55th streets, when she suddenly felt some heat on her arm. When she looked, she noticed that her sleeve was on fire, which she immediately extinguished, as reported by NY Daily News.
“She saw (the suspect) pull a lighter away and walk away,” a police source told the NY Daily News. “He doesn’t say anything.”
After the bizarre incident, the suspect walked towards East 554th Street. A surveillance video has been released showing the suspect strutting his way through the New York City crowd. He was wearing a tank top, a pair of pants, and a backwards hat — all black. Whether the all-black ensemble was a means to express grief over the 9/11 attack from 15 years ago is a matter of speculation at this point.
The Muslim woman wasn’t seriously hurt and refused medical attention.
In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11,2001 terror attacks, U.S. Muslims were targeted by a slew of hate crimes pic.twitter.com/ELJYRzLmXK— American Muslims (@MUSLIMS_IN_USA) September 11, 2016
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called for a full investigation on the incident.
“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.”
According to the FBI, attacks against Muslims increased by 1,600-percent in 2001.
On the anniversary of 9/11, remembering the brilliant answer to what the world would look like without Muslims pic.twitter.com/zdH2KOntBI— The Independent (@Independent) September 13, 2016
Two days before the attack against the Scottish woman, an incident was reported in Brooklyn where two Muslim woman were attacked while pushing their babies in strollers. The attacker, Emirjeta Zhelili, 32, allegedly punched the two women in the face and tried to rip away their hijabs. At one point, she tipped the strollers over and then attacked the children. The children didn’t suffer any injuries during the confrontation.
The suspect yelled anti-Muslim slurs at the two women, such as “get the f*ck out of America, you don’t belong here.”
“She didn’t even care for the well-being of a baby — that’s how serious this hate crime is,” Kelli Muse, the assistant district attorney, told the court.
“She continued to taunt [the victims] in front of police while in custody, saying ‘You guys don’t belong here,’ the district attorney added.
Zhelili was later charged for assault, reckless endangerment of a child, and harassment. She is set to appear before the court Wednesday with an option to bail worth $50,000.
She published numerous anti-Muslim posts on Facebook before the attack, such as the one posted a day before, writing, “From this moment on, every woman that wears (sic) the jihab/hijab will go to hell!! I cant stand you f—ing hypocrites. You have been warned.”
The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations has urged Islamic organizations to ramp up security after the attack, as reported by Telegraph. They warned that the 15th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks might be used as an excuse to attack Muslims.
On Monday, law enforcement officers in Florida determined that the mosque where the Orlando night club shooter frequently worshiped was set on fire by arsonists.
At about 12:30 am local time, officers received reports that the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce has been engulfed in flames.
No one was hurt, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Major David Thompson said during a news conference attended by reporters.
A surveillance video has emerged showing a white or Hispanic man riding towards the mosque on a motorcycle and carrying a bottle of liquid and some papers before flames erupted, said Thompson.
Investigators haven’t been able to identify the man, who shook his hand while trying to escape the flames. Thompson said it’s possible that the suspect may have burned himself in the fire.
[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]