A hijab-clad woman and her family were allegedly taunted and called a “bunch of terrorists” at a busy town square near Houston, the latest in a series of hate crimes in which headscarf-wearing women have been targeted in the US following Donald Trump’s win.
21-year-old Shifa Abuzaid and some of her younger cousins and siblings strolled through Sugar Land Town Square, Texas, when a man called them a “bunch of terrorists”, she recounted in a Facebook post.
The incident caught the public’s attention and her post had been shared more than 2,500 times.
Abuzaid and her family members had been walking to their car after lunch when they passed a man and woman who abused them verbally, Abuzaid told Houston Chronicle about Saturday’s incident. She and her cousins live on the same street near Sugar Land, southwest of Houston.
Mayor Joe Zimmerman was swift to condemn the incident, saying, “prejudice of any kind is unacceptable”.
“We still have racism in Houston and we still have people who hate Muslims in Houston,” Mustafaa Carroll, executive director for the local chapter of the Council on American- Islamic Relations, was quoted as saying.
Recounting the incident, Abuzaid said she was the eldest of her family members present at the time. The youngest was 10 years old. She was in front as they walked to the car and was the only one with a hijab.
When they passed the couple, she said she tried to appear friendly. But the younger kids in her family stopped in their tracks after the “terrorists” remark, she said. They told Abuzaid what they had heard the man say. She felt shocked -- then she decided to try to talk to him about it.
She followed the man into a store, Abuzaid said, and asked him politely why he had called them terrorists. She found his reaction confrontational.
Her sister began to cry as the man got close to her face, and when her 15-year-old brother stepped in front of her, the man pushed him, according to Abuzaid.
The man then began to deny their account, Abuzaid said. A manager at the store stepped in to help. The store had called security, and the man and woman left.
A police officer later told Abuzaid he could not do anything because no one was physically harmed, she said.
Later, Sugar Land police chief Douglas Brinkley said he believed the officer was told no one had been injured but that police planned to look again at it.
The incident comes amid a series of such cases of intimidation and assault that have been reported across the country against hijab-clad women following Trump’s win.
Last month, a hijab-clad Muslim student was allegedly struck in the face with a glass bottle in broad daylight at the University of Washington campus in Seattle.