NEW YORK – Seeing it as one of the most common harassment techniques used against Muslim women in the US, a Muslim woman has created a new self-defense technique against attacks involving grabbing hijab.
“We’ve actually put together and invented, almost, a technique called the ‘hijab-grab’ technique, which is so messed up because why should we have to invent that?” Rana Abdelhamid told New York Post on Thursday, August 10.
Abdelhamid, from Queens, is the founder of the International Muslim Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, a grassroots organization that offers self-defense classes and teaches leadership skills.
Even though physical defense is important, verbal defense, as well as building confidence, are other tools women can use to protect themselves, according to Abdelhamid.
“I need you to go home and I need you to scream, I need you to practice to use your voice to say ‘stop,’ to say, ‘no,’” she tells her students.
A study from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding reveals 42 percent of Muslim Americans report religious-based bullying.
“This sort of marginalization isn’t just a Trump administration thing,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it was also happening under Obama, it was also happening under Bush, and it was happening under Clinton.”
Abdelhamid has long been able to handle herself against attacks, as her parents enrolled her in karate classes when she was just seven years old.
Abdelhamid said she first experienced anti-Muslim violence when she was 15 years old.
“I remember I was walking down the street in Queens, New York, which is actually one of the most diverse places in the world,” she said.
“I remember feeling a tug at the back of my hijab. A man aggressively assaulted me, trying to take off my hijab.”
Her goal is to make sure Muslim women never feel threatened when they are out in public — and to make bigots think twice before attacking them.
“Our main goal is to be able to give Muslim women the tools to be able to confront anti-Muslim violence, gender-based violence and state-based violence,” she said.
Women “should feel like they could walk down the street without feeling threatened or insecure,” she said.