UPDATED 09/14/16 9:30 p.m. ET:
On Wednesday the New York Police Department said it didn't think the the attack was a hate crime The Guardian reported. In an email to The Guardian a NYPD spokesperson said three other women were targeted in an area similar to where the attack happened, but noted they weren't wearing hijabs. "The other women were NOT wearing clothing indicating they were Muslim. The motivation for these crimes is not considered to be 'bias-related' at this time," said police. However, the Hate Crimes Unit will continue to investigate the attack.
See original story below.
A Muslim woman who was wearing her hijab over the weekend on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was allegedly attacked by a man who set her shirt on fire. Police are investigating the alleged attack as a hate crime, according to the Washington Post. The 35-year-old woman, who has not been identified, was not physically hurt by the flame but was understandably rattled by the alleged assault.
The Washington Post reported that the man who set the woman's blouse on fire did not say anything, but the Muslim woman looked up after noticing her shirt was on fire and saw a man nearby holding a lighter. Police have not yet found the suspect, who walked away shortly after allegedly setting the woman's clothes on fire.
Afaf Nasher, executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was quoted in a CAIR Facebook statement about the attack posted Monday: "We are clearly seeing a spike in attacks on individual Muslims and Islamic institutions in New York and around the country, which should be of concern to all Americans."
Nasher also called for the mayor and the New York Police Department "to put forward the necessary resources to investigate and prevent these attacks on the Muslim community."
Attacks targeting Muslim Americans have in fact been on the rise since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign season last year. In its report, When Islamophobia Turns Violent, Georgetown University's The Bridge Initiative found several alarming statistics related to attacks on Muslims in the U.S. since the start of the election campaigns.
Since the first candidate announced their campaign in March of last year, the report found that 180 anti-Muslim acts of violence have been reported. The report linked anti-Muslim rhetoric (which has largely been touted by GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump) and fear-mongering regarding the Syrian refugee crisis to the spike in attacks against Muslims.