A Muslim woman in Louisiana who told police she was attacked with a metal object and robbed of her headscarf and wallet by two men wearing Donald Trump clothing just hours after Trump was elected president admitted to police today that she made it up, Lafayette police told ABC News.
“She made up the entire story about being attacked, about her hijab being taken. There was no truth to any of it,” Lafayette Police Department spokesman Cpl. Karol Ratcliff said.
The 18-year-old University of Louisiana at Lafayette student, who police haven’t named, reported that two white men jumped out of a gray sedan and accosted her while she was walking near campus, striking her several times in the back with a metal object, and knocking her down. She also told police they shouted racial obscenities at her before fleeing. Police said they weren’t able to identify any suspects and that she declined medical treatment.
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The report of the attack garnered national attention and elicited outrage today from the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, which issued a firm rebuke of the attack, tying it to the anti-Muslim rhetoric of Trump’s campaign.
“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 of Louisiana said in a statement.
But by this afternoon, the student had changed her story.
“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 student will be charged with a misdemeanor for filing a false police report, but will likely not face any jail time, Ratcliff said.
“We’re moving on from it,” Ratcliff said. “She decided to tell the truth about not telling the truth.”
Despite this false report, other attacks on Muslim Americans have been reported since Tuesday. Authorities at San Diego State University said two suspects targeted a Muslim student on campus Wednesday because of her faith and made comments about Trump’s election. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
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Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election has civil rights advocates warning Muslim Americans to “be cautious” of their surroundings and to “pay extra attention to safety and security at mosques.”
“In times of crisis or in times of upheaval, often American Muslims and their institutions are targeted,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations national communications director Ibrahim Hooper. “We’re not saying it will happen in his [Trump’s] case, but we should be aware of that possibility.”