The incident follows similar reports of harassment against racial and religious minorities, as well as fear among LGBTQ people, on college campuses nationwide since Donald Trump’s election on Tuesday.
University of Washingon Bothell officials are investigating a possible hate crime that occurred on campus last week in which a group of men reportedly targeted several Muslim women, demanding that they remove their hijabs.
Administrators and the school’s campus safety department are looking into the incident, a school spokeswoman said. In a letter to the campus community, Chancellor Wolf Yeigh said the school will not tolerate the “abhorrent” behavior and encouraged students to report such harassment.
“This is not only a violation of the women’s right to practice their faith, it is also a clear violation of our values at UW Bothell,” he wrote. “This is a serious offense.”
Under Washington state law, the malicious harassment — or hate crime — statute provides protections for people attacked over race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or mental, physical or sensory handicap.
Here’s an explanation of what "bias crime" actually means.
Further details, such as a motive behind the reported confrontation, were not available, as well as the identities of the women involved, the spokeswoman said. Also unclear was if the men and women are students.
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The local incident follows similar reports of harassment against racial and religious minorities, as well as concern among LGBTQ people, on college campuses nationwide since Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president on Tuesday.
At San Jose State University, for instance, one hijab-wearing student said that she had been grabbed by her hijab and choked after Trump’s victory, The Associated Press reported. And at New York University, hundreds of people held a demonstration late last week to express solidarity with Muslims after the word “Trump!” was scrawled on the door of a Muslim prayer space at the school.
Critics of the President-elect say his rhetoric on the campaign trail, which included a proposal to ban Muslim immigration, has contributed to an anti-Muslim sentiment. It is not yet known whether he will implement the ban.
According to FBI statistics released this week, reported hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest number since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, increasing from 154 in 2014 to 257. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he expects the trend to continue.
On Monday, thousands of students from high schools and colleges across the Puget Sound region staged walkouts in effort to show solidarity with communities that may feel targeted by Trump’s campaign. That protest follows others with similar motives nationwide, including in Seattle, since his election.
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of reported incidents of anti-Muslim bias in 2014 and 2015. There were 257 in 2015 and 154 the year before.