In this op-ed for Washington Post, Rana Elmir, deputy director of the ACLU of Michigan, writes how Muslim women often bear the brunt of anti-Muslim hate crimes. In her piece, Ms. Elmir cites one report which finds that 69% of Muslim women who wore the hijab reported at least one incident of discrimination versus 29% for those who do not wear the head-scarf. Studies also show that women who wear visible symbols of Islam, such as a hijab or niqab, were much more likely to be targeted.
Last year was the highest number of anti-Muslim hate crimes reported since 9-11. And although the rancor of anti-Muslim sentiment is directed against both men and women, women bear the brunt of attacks – mainly due to their visibility and identity.
As Ms. Elmir says in her piece, “To Muslim women, these numbers aren’t abstract. They are real life. Just last weekend, days after my friend who wears hijab told me about being accosted in an airport bathroom and told to “go home where they wear those things” in front of her 7-year-old son.”
“Although Muslim men and women may both suffer from a presumption of guilt, women experience the additional presumption of victimhood,” continues Ms. Elmir. “We’re seen simultaneously as recognizable representatives of a religion to be “feared” and passive targets of male dominance. In turn, our absurd status as both villains and victims drives not only discrimination, harassment and hate crimes, but promotes cynical policy proposals designed to help us [i.e. the burkini ban in France] which actually are rooted in stereotypes and anti-Muslim bias.”