In Manhattan, Nisma Zakria teaches a self-defense class through the Muslim nonprofit Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE). Due to the increase of anti-Muslim hate crimes this election year, there has been an “overwhelming” response for self-defense classes in the Muslim community, particularly with women. “We were not expecting that when we published the event the election would have gone the way that it did,” says Emaan Moosani, Program Director at the Muslim Community Network where Ms. Zakria recently taught classes. “Within ten hours it was sold out, [and] our Facebook event had 500 shares.”
As of November 13th, 328 hate crimes had been reported in New York City compared to 250 during the same period in 2015. Of that total, 25 have allegedly been committed against Muslims—a 108% increase from 2015. And just last week, a man screaming ‘Donald Trump’ attacked a woman wearing a hijab on the subway and a Muslim police officer’s son was recently attacked.
“We are here because we feel that we are being targeted,” says Amirah Aulaqi, a 26-year-old modest fashion designer. Ms. Aulaqi was also a guest speaker, lending an emotional component to the workshops which is attended by many new Muslim immigrants. “We didn’t want to just do self-defense courses. We really needed a support group,” she explains. “We [work] with a lot of mothers and women who wear full garments that are really normal to them back home, and when they get here [to America] they don’t understand other people being fearful of them.”