Online media and newspapers were quick to pick up a story that Muslim female student in Louisiana was assaulted by two white men wearing Donald Trump clothing who allegedly stole her headscarf and wallet. The assault supposedly took place just hours after President-elect Trump’s electoral victory.
Woman in hijab attacked, robbed at University of Louisiana-Lafayette by man in Trump hat: police https://t.co/7AXmatUtNX— Thomas Pluck (@thomaspluck) November 10, 2016
The female student at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette alleged that she was walking on campus at 11:00 a.m. on November 10 when two white men descended from a grey four-door sedan and struck her with the metal object and knocked her to the ground, according to local reports. The men allegedly tore off the student’s headscarf and stole her wallet. She claimed that they kicked her as well. She told police that one of the men was wearing a white cap that had the word “Trump” on it. While local authorities did not say whether the alleged victim is Muslim, they did describe her headscarf as a “hijab,” a garment worn by Muslim women.
It turns out however that the story is false. The student in question admitted on November 10 that she had fabricated the story.Lafayette Police Department spokesman Cpl. Karol Ratcliff said, “She made up the entire story about being attacked, about her hijab being taken. There was no truth to any of it.” The 18-year-old student was not further identified.
“She caused all this stir over nothing. I don’t know what her motivation was,” Ratcliff said. “Getting people upset and afraid is not the way to express your discontent," he said. "It’s just not the way to do it. And it’s not ok and that’s why there’s a consequence.” The woman will be charged with a misdemeanor for filing a false police report, but will likely not face any time in jail. “We’re moving on from it,” Ratcliff said.
“She decided to tell the truth about not telling the truth.” Kareem Attia, president of the Muslim Student Association at UL-Lafayette, told The Washington Post on the day that the fraudulent report came out, "No one wants this to happen, and it's hitting home for us," he told The Washington Post in an interview. "The idea that a person in your community could be targeted just for wearing a headscarf, which is part of our religion, it's disgusting. It's very un-American."
Claiming that both Muslim and foreign students are "very integrated" into the university, Attia said students there are generally religious and tolerant. "I don't think that a campus that has such ties of religiosity could really stomach the idea of another religion being attacked," Attia told The Washington Post. "It's like, I have a religion, you have another, and that's sacred to both of us."
When news of the attack went viral, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana denounced the attack and sought to tie it to Donald Trump's campaign rhetoric. “We condemn this rhetoric and this behavior. We call on all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry. Muslim Americans and residents have the same rights that we all do: to practice our religion freely and openly, to live and work without fear, and to participate equally in public life,” the ACLU said in a statement.
Once the woman recanted, the ACLU was sticking to its story. "We don't know the full story of what happened yesterday, and we don't know what caused her to recant," a subsequent ACLU statement said. "We stand by our call for all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry. Our Muslim neighbors' rights remain unchanged. We will continue to speak out against this harassment and bigotry, and call for equal protection under the law."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim pressure group based in Washington, called on President-elect Trump to repudiate the alleged attack. In the statement, CAIR national communications director Ibrahim Hooper declared, "If President-elect Trump truly wishes to be the leader of all Americans, he must begin unifying the nation by repudiating the type of bigotry generated by his campaign for the White House." He added, "Unless Mr. Trump speaks out forcefully against hate attacks by his supporters, they will take his silence as tacit endorsement of their actions."
According to the Indy100 website, New York Post opinion writer and activist Shaun King wrote on Twitter:
“Muslim student brutally assaulted by two Trump supporters in Louisiana. Hijab ripped off. Day 1. pic.twitter.com/QkCAaZE7BT — Shaun King (@ShaunKing) November 10, 2016.
That tweet has since been apparently removed. King has chronicled numerous other instances of supposed assaults on Muslims, some of which had no witnesses mentioned other than those making the denunciations. King is also advocating for U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, a progressive Democrat from Minnesota who was the first Muslim elected to Congress, to serve as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Sen. Bernie Sanders has called for Ellison to serve at the DNC, while a campaign is being promoted by MoveOn.org -- a political advocacy organization funded by billionaire George Soros.