According to London's Metropolitan Police, Islamophobic hate crimes rose by 70% in London in 2015, while the anti-Islamophobia charity Tell MAMA (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) reports that the bulk of these attacks are targeted towards women who wear the headscarf or face veil.
Which is why when Ruqsana Begum teach hold self-defense to Muslim women at Rana Abdelhamid's WISE (Women's Initiative for Self-Empowerment) it was a step that was worth recognising. She also happens to be the woman who has brought the 'sport' hijab to the market—one that's made of lycra, can be worn easily without pins, and is also absorbs moisture.
Ruqsana, who's an international kickboxing champion and the captain of Britain's Muay Thai team, is the only Muslim woman to be a national champion in her sport. When Begum isn't fighting , she's busy running a boxing/self-defence class that is geared towards the needs of Muslim women.
Rana Abdelhamid, an Egyptian-American with a black belt in Shotokan karate and the woman behind WISE is leading and one of Amnesty International's leading organisers in the US, says headscarves and the hijab make Muslim women easy targets.
"You can be attacked at any point. You can be pushed off… of a subway ledge," she told Reuters at her class in New York City.
"You just feel this rush of adrenaline in your body and you just want to conquer the world," said HindEssayegh, a native of Afghanistan, after the class. "It's really empowering."
Until legislative action or preventive measures are taken by the government, it's up to the community and leaders like Ruqsana and Rana to fight, and help keep Muslim women safe.