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Muslim Woman Wearing Hijab Set On Fire In New York City

The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident as a possible bias crime, and police said Wednesday that there are two additional incidents that may be connected to the crime.

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Updated on
NYPD

Surveillance video of an individual wanted in connection with the attack.

A Muslim woman wearing traditional attire was set on fire Saturday night in New York City by a man with a lighter, police said.

The 35-year-old woman was wearing a hijab and looking at a dress in the window display of a Valentino store on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan when a man set her clothes on fire with a lighter, the New York Police Department told BuzzFeed News.

"She felt a sudden heat on her left arm," a police source said. "She noticed she was on fire and patted the fire out."

The woman was not seriously injured in the attack, police said, but the flame left a hole in her blouse about the size of a quarter.

On Wednesday, the NYPD said that two other incidents occurred in the same vicinity, where an individual in a group tried to use a lighter near women's bodies and clothes. There were no ignition or flames in those incidents, involving three female victims.

The victims in the two additional cases left the scene unharmed, police said. It was reported that the other victims were white and Latina, putting into question the bias motivation of the first attack.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force said it was investigating the incident as a possible bias crime. No arrests have been made in the incident, but on Tuesday morning the NYPD released surveillance video of "an individual wanted in connection" with the attack.

Albert Cahn, the director of strategic litigation at the Council on American–Islamic Relations, told BuzzFeed News the advocacy group is concerned about an increase in attacks on Muslims in the US.

"CAIR is alarmed by the spike we are observing in attacks on Muslim individuals in New York, and of course across the country," Cahn said. "This is not just something that should be of concern to the Muslim community, but to all Americans."

Michelle Broder Van Dyke is a reporter and night editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Hawaii.

Contact Michelle Broder Van Dyke at michelle@buzzfeed.com.

Talal Ansari is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 4FEE 894C 8088 7E08 E170 A515 2801 7CC6 95D3 11C2

Contact Talal Ansari at talal.ansari@buzzfeed.com.

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