COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Over the past week, there has been an alarming increase in the number of verbal assaults against Muslims according to the Columbus chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Spokesman Romin Iqbal says one incident involved an established patient of a Muslim doctor who called the doctors office to say he wanted to speak to a, “white, English speaking, American doctor”.
“Then he goes on the say that people like the doctor should be killed and thrown out of the country and that he’s so glad that Donald Trump has won the presidency,” Iqbal said.
One woman called Columbus police from her car to report being harassed on Sawmill Road. “I was on the stop light,” she told the 911 operator. “He came out of his truck and start harassing me with my kids and my family. He said go back to your country and started cussing me out.”
Iqbal says there have been seven reported incidents since the election. “Unfortunately there have been multiple incidents involving women especially ones wearing head scarves who have been harassed and threatened since Wednesday,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal said other incidents have been reported on campus at The Ohio State University. Sahra Ahmed, a graduate student at OSU, says she has never been harassed does says she does worry a bit more now.
“A little bit, yes. We’re just kind of hoping that everything goes well and we don’t see too many changes,” Ahmed said.
Abir Elassadi lives in Dublin and says while she’s grateful to live in a safe community, she worries now for her children – especially her college-aged daughter. “She’s still not trained well in how to act or how to protect herself against those kinds of actions,” Elassadi said.
Abir Elassadi says she has learned over the years to just ignore the stares she gets when she wears her hijab. “Come on, you cannot judge me based on what I’m wearing,” Elassadi said. “You have to interact with me. Listen to me. Maybe I’m not that bad a person, you know.”
Romin Iqbal says Muslims understand it’s a small minority of people expressing anger. “But the good people have to speak up and say no to these perpetrators that this is not acceptable, that Muslims are your neighbors, your colleagues, and to target them the way they have been targeted since Wednesday is not OK,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal said CAIR is advising Muslims to be careful when they are out in public. “We are advising them to be vigilant but at the same time also not lose hope and to know that most people in this town are standing with them and believe in them,” Iqbal said.