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1 in 4 Muslim women in New York say they've been pushed on a subway platform while wearing a hijab

Muslims and other religious minorities in New York have experienced widespread bias, discrimination and harassment --...

Posted: Jun 20, 2018 1:25 PM
Updated: Jun 20, 2018 1:25 PM

Muslims and other religious minorities in New York have experienced widespread bias, discrimination and harassment -- including physical assault -- in recent years, a new survey finds.

Most of the respondents said they did not report the incidents to police or other authorities because they were afraid or suspected they wouldn't be taken seriously.

The report, released Tuesday by the city's Commission on Human Rights, summarizes responses from 3,100 Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Jewish and Sikh New Yorkers. They described incidents between July 2016 and late 2017.

For example, 27 percent of Muslim Arab women who wear a hijab said they have been pushed on a subway platform, the commission reported.

"No one in New York City has permission to discriminate against or harass others because of who they are, where they pray, or what country they come from." said Carmelyn P. Malalis, the commission's chairperson. "The NYC Commission on Human Rights takes bias-motivated incidents very seriously and we are dedicated to combating them."

Key findings: Harassment, vandalism, assault

Among the report's findings:

  • Almost 2 in 5 (38.7%) told of verbal harassment
  • Some 8.8% reported physical assault
  • Almost 1 in 6 (16.6%) said they experienced racial, religious or ethnic discrimination at work or while seeking a job
  • Sikhs under 35 were verbally harassed almost twice as often as others surveyed
  • Eighty percent of Jewish respondents said they were "very" or "somewhat" bothered by anti-Semitic vandalism or property damage

Woman recalls 'hate-filled' attack

In one example cited by the commission, Souad Kirama, a Muslim, said she was physically assaulted at a Brooklyn restaurant last year by "hate-filled teenage girls" who called her a terrorist.

"People were just standing there watching me being beaten up and being called a (expletive) terrorist," she said at a press conference. "Never in my life have I seen this kind of violence and aggressiveness."

"I am a proud New Yorker and I am thankful" for the commission's survey, she said. "Now more than ever, it is critical that everyone in New York City stands up against discrimination and hate whenever and wherever they see it."

Most incidents go unreported

The commission said more than 70% of the respondents did not report the alleged incidents to police or anyone else because:

  • They didn't think they'd be taken seriously
  • They feared retaliation
  • Reporting earlier trouble hadn't helped

The survey followed increased reports of bias against Muslims and the other minority groups.

The commission urged the creation of a community-based referral network, along with bystander intervention training. It said more money should go to community outreach and legal help so minorities understand their rights.

The commission also started an ad campaign this week on social media and in 15 ethnic media outlets.

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