Women in hijabs on 2 campuses say they were attacked by men invoking Trump
A Muslim student at San Diego State University was robbed and may have had her car stolen Wednesday by two men who made comments about President-elect Donald Trump and Muslims, according to police and university officials, who called the attack a hate crime.
In a separate incident on Wednesday, a female student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette was beaten, robbed and had her hijab ripped off by two men, one of them wearing a white ‘‘Trump’’ hat, police and university officials said.
The two attacks occurred within hours of each other on a day marked by widespread protests over the Republican nominee’s surprising victory against Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s presidential election.
The SDSU student was walking to her car around 2:30 p.m. when two men accosted her in the stairwell of a campus parking building and ‘‘made comments about President-elect Donald Trump and the Muslim community,’’ campus police said in a statement. The men grabbed the woman’s purse and backpack, and removed her car keys before fleeing, police said.
The woman, who was not injured, left the area to report the attack, according to police, who said the car was missing when they arrived on the scene.
Police described the suspects as a white male between 20 and 25 years old, and a Hispanic male about the same age. Investigators are treating the incident as a hate crime, robbery and vehicle theft.
The SDSU Muslim Student Association said the victim was a black Muslim student wearing a hijab and ‘‘full Islamic garb.’’ The group is planning a demonstration next week to protest Trump’s victory, saying his campaign has encouraged anti-Muslim sentiments.
‘‘We are calling on all students, faculty, staff, and community members to come and show solidarity with our sister that was attacked and also stand against anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, and all other forms of discrimination that have become increasingly normalized during the campaign and now election of Donald Trump,’’ the group said on Facebook. ‘‘It is time we make it clear that the hate and racism of Donald Trump will not find a home in San Diego.’’
University President Elliot Hirshman said in a statement that the victim appeared to have been targeted because of her Muslim faith.
‘‘We condemn this hateful act and urge all members of our community to join us in condemning such hateful acts,’’ Hirshman said. ‘‘Hate crimes are destructive to the spirit of our campus and we urge all members of our community to stand together in rejecting hate.’’
Hours earlier, Hirshman sent out a statement calling on members of the university to ‘‘ensure fair and equitable treatment of all members of our community’’ in the wake of the election, the independent student newspaper reported.
A strikingly similar attack was reported earlier in the day in Louisiana.
Around 11 a.m., a female UL Lafayette student was walking down a residential street near campus when two white males jumped out of a gray four-door sedan and hit her with a metal object, knocking her to the ground, university police the Advertiser. The men tore off the woman’s head wrap, took her wallet and hit her while she was down, police said. The woman reported one of the suspects was wearing a white hat that had ‘‘Trump’’ on it.
Authorities did not say whether the victim was Muslim, but a spokesperson for campus police described her head covering as a hijab, a garment worn by some Muslim women. Cpl. Karl Ratcliff of the Lafayette Police Department told the Advertiser that the attackers ‘‘were saying ugly stuff to her,’’ but did not elaborate, according to the Advertiser.
Kareem Attia, president of the Muslim Student Association at UL Lafayette, said the attack rattled the campus.
‘‘No one wants this to happen, and it’s hitting home for us,’’ he told The Washington Post in an interview. ‘‘The idea that a person in your community could be targeted just for wearing a headscarf, which is part of our religion, it’s disgusting. It’s very un-American.’’
Attia said Muslim and international students are ‘‘very integrated’’ at the university, which statistics show has a student body that is roughly two-thirds white. He described the students as generally religious and tolerant.
‘‘I don’t think that a campus that has such ties of religiosity could really stomach the idea of another religion being attacked,’’ Attia told The Post. ‘‘It’s like, I have a religion, you have another, and that’s sacred to both of us.’’
Trump’s vows throughout the campaign to ban, deport or use ‘‘extreme vetting’’ against Muslims entering the country has struck fear in many U.S. Muslims, who have faced a surge in hate crimes in the years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The president-elect’s proposals and repeated condemnation of Muslims on the campaign trail have led some critics to accuse him of normalizing anti-Islamic sentiment.
The incidents in San Diego and Louisiana come less than two weeks after a Saudi Arabian student at the University of Wisconsin-Stout was assaulted and killed near campus. Allegations spread online that the attack on 24-year-old Hussain Saeed Alnahdi may have been a hate crime, but police have yet to identify a motive or name a suspect in the case.