‘Hijab grab’ defense: As reports of hate crimes spike postelection, Muslim women turn to self-defense

Source: The Washington Post

November 21

Zaineb Abdulla says she was about 8 years old the first time someone spit on her for being Muslim. The 24-year-old — who wears a hijab, weighs 105 pounds and stands just over 5 feet tall — is used to feeling the need to protect herself.

Through her role as vice president of an organization called Deaf Planet Soul in Chicago, Abdulla has been teaching basic self-defense classes to help other women — including those who are deaf or who wear a hijab — feel prepared and empowered to fight back, she said in an interview with The Washington Post. The morning after Donald Trump won the presidency, a number of Muslim women called Abdulla, asking her for a specific type of self-defense training: What could they do if someone tried to grab them by their headscarves?

That same Wednesday, and in the days that followed, Muslim women in cities across the country reported being targeted for wearing hijabs. A Muslim student at San Jose State University reportedly struggled to breathe as a man yanked her headscarf from behind.  A San Diego State University student wearing a hijab reported she was robbed by two men who made comments about Trump and Muslims.

Abdulla immediately recruited help from a trainer, Misho Ceko, of Chicago Mixed Martial Arts, to teach women a set of moves to defend themselves in case someone tries to pull on their hijabs. On the Sunday after Election Day, Abdulla taught nine mostly Muslim women a two-hour “hate crime survival seminar,” during which they learned how to escape a “hijab grab,” how to identify and report hate crimes, and what steps to follow as a bystander.

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