The election of Donald Trump left many Muslims around the country ― along with a host of other religious and ethnic minorities ― feeling fearful. Many feared not only what a Trump presidency would mean for their civil rights, but also what kind of hate and aggression it would unleash.
Their fears have thus far proven to be entirely founded.
The number of reported assaults against Muslim Americans has reached a record high since right after Sept. 11. Muslim women who wear hijabs are often some of the most visible in their faith, making them vulnerable to such attacks.
The day after the election, Chicago-based self-defense instructor Zaineb Abdulla said she received a wave of calls from members of her community asking for tips on protecting themselves from would-be attackers.
“In this new era of yelling insults and ripping off hijabs, my community’s first instinct was fear. Our second instinct was action,” she wrote in an op-ed for Middle East Eye.
Abdulla teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes and serves as vice president at Deaf Planet Soul, a Chicago non-profit that works with people who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. She and fellow instructors at the organization responded to the community’s concerns with a series of guide videos that have gone viral in the days since Abdulla posted them on Facebook.
The Saturday after the election, she met with fellow fighters Misho Ceko and Patrick Gatbunton to develop a now-viral series of videos called “Hijab Grab Escapes.” The next day, DPS hosted its first “Hate Crime Survival Seminar” to teach the techniques in person.
Abdulla posted the two videos on her Facebook page on Nov. 15, guiding Muslim women through simple maneuvers to defend themselves against a “hijab grab” from the front or back. Both videos are narrated to explain the techniques, and Abdulla provides American Sign Language translation.