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Muslim woman set on fire in NYC hate attack

A Muslim woman crossing a street in New York City (Getty Images photo)

In a bizarre instance of religious discrimination in the US, a Muslim woman in New York City has been set on fire for wearing an Islamic dress.

The incident occurred on Saturday night, when an unknown attacker set fire to a 36-year-old Scottish tourist’s blouse outside a boutique in Manhattan, police sources said Monday.

Nemariq Alhinai was walking in front of the shop at around 21:00 when she felt heat on her arm and noticed that the sleeve of her blouse was charred and smoldering while a man with a lighter in hand was standing next to her.

She put out the flames but the attacker managed to get away, police said, noting that the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating the case as a possible hate crime.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), demanded a full investigation to the case, expressing concern about the recent surge in Islamophobic attacks against American Muslims.

“I would obviously be concerned because it’s symptomatic of the overall rise in Islamophobic sentiment in our society,” he said.

The attack comes days after an American woman was arrested for attacking two Muslim women as they were pushing two baby carriages in New York’s Brooklyn district.

According to court documents, Emirjeta Xhelili, 32, hurled Islamophobic insults as she struck the hijab-wearing women in the face and body. She repeatedly shouted, "This is the United States of America, you're not supposed to be different from us."

The hate attacks turned deadly in mid-August, when Muslim community leaders, Imam Maulana Alauddin Akonjee and his assistant Thara Uddin, were killed by a gunman near the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid in Queens.

Some of the blame for the rise of anti-Islamic sentiments in the US has been put on presidential candidates like the Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has tried to make a case by pledging to take various anti-Muslim actions to curb what he calls the terrorism threat.

American media are also partly responsible for the unfair treatment of Muslims in the country because of their biased coverage of terror attacks both inside and outside the US.

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