According to a new Huffington Post report: “Many hijab-wearing Muslim drivers [face] hate at the wheel. Sometimes it’s racial abuse hurled through an open window, other times it’s a terrifying encounter at 60 miles an hour. No one knows how often it happens. The various types of road rage are not tracked by any federal agency, but among Muslim women, it is felt particularly hard, especially for those wearing the hijab, an easy target for an Islamophobe driving by.”
30 hijab-wearing Muslim drivers were interviewed for the article which found that the women were identifiable targets and thus, were at higher risk for hate crimes. “The [women assumed they were at fault — maybe they were driving too slow or forgot to signal that they were changing lanes. But when the confrontation persisted, the women faced racial slurs or were told to simply ‘go back to their country.’ They were called ‘rag heads’ or ‘terrorists.’ One woman in Texas told HuffPost that the driver who almost ran her off the road stuck his right arm out the window in a Nazi salute. Others were flipped off while the perpetrators pointed at their hijabs.”
Many women say the incidents often happen too quickly to capture the license plate and since there’s no concrete evidence, the women don’t make reports to the police. And Detective Nicholas Shock, president of the New Jersey Police Traffic Officers Association, basically concurs with this assessment. “There’s no real way through the court system to actually track what incidents are road rage and what aren’t. There’s just no definition. Most court officials only see a violation for speeding, for example. There is no information about the driver chasing another car aggressively, or if the driver was alone, there’s no way to capture that right now.”
But there is an opportunity to take action. Documenting Hate project is a database that tracks incidents of hate and bias.