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Why This American Muslim Woman Has Traded Her Hijab For A Hat

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Photo: Blair Imani's Facebook
Donald Trump's election as U.S. president last week has led to a reported surge in hate crimes against minority groups across the country.

Just as racists and xenophobes in the UK felt emboldened by the Brexit vote to attack immigrants and people who don't look or sound like them, the U.S. election result seems to have unleashed a tide of hatred.

Groups that Trump disparaged during the campaign, including Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans and migrants, seem to have been particularly affected by the latest wave of hate crime.

One woman has spoken out about her "pure fear" of a Trump presidency and of being attacked, which is so strong that she's taken the decision to wear a hat instead of a headscarf in many places.

Blair Imani, 23, an activist and founder of nonprofit Equality for HER, said she has experienced a stream of abuse since she decided to start wearing the hijab in March.

"I'm not coercing or persuading my fellow Muslim women to decide one way or the other but for me, I'm wearing hats instead of hijab because I'm afraid of the amount of people who feel that Trump's election is a green light to be violent both verbally and physically," she told indy100.

"I want to say that I am speaking to my experience, my fears, and my decisions alone. It is no one's right to pass judgement on my decision."

Imani added that she is not "afraid of Donald Trump" but that she is "pained by the way that his rhetoric has mobilised and empowered those seeking to do harm to marginalised people. I'll never stop covering or being Muslim."

She believes Islamophobic and xenophobic people "have used [Trump's] rhetoric as a green light to be more vocal and act upon their sentiments against Muslims".

Imani described how she was attacked even before Trump was elected, during the U.S. election campaign earlier this year. One woman ripped her hijab off her head in the grocery store, "and acted as if she was doing something righteous by denying me my religious freedoms".

Imani also said she was almost "run off the road by someone yelling slurs" at her, and had been called a "terrorist" both on her way to the mosque and even at a Clinton Fundraiser in Washington DC.

"I ended up getting to meet Bill Clinton because of the incident but it woke me up to the fact that even liberals and progressives have these sentiments sometimes," she added.

Muslims make up approximately one per cent of the total U.S. population, or 3.3 million people, according to an estimate by the Pew Research Centre.

UK government statistics said race and religious hate crimes rose by 41% in the month following the EU referendum in June. It's too early to gauge what the impact of Trump's election in the U.S. might be, reported the BBC, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's annual hate crime statistics won't be released until 2017.
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