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San Diego Student Wearing Hijab Attacked, Police Investigating As Hate Crime

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Two female students in traditional Muslim headscarves have reported being assaulted on or near college campuses in Louisiana and California within hours of Donald Trump's presidential victory, authorities said Thursday.

A college student in Lafayette, Louisiana, told police that two men - one wearing a white "Trump" hat - shouted racial obscenities as they beat her and stole her wallet and headscarf, known as a hijab.

Meanwhile, authorities at San Diego State University said two suspects who assaulted a Muslim student on campus Wednesday had targeted her because of her faith and made comments about Trump's election.

The 18-year-old student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette said she was walking near the campus Wednesday morning when she was accosted by two white men who drove up in a gray sedan, Lafayette police said in a statement. The student said the men struck her several times in the back with a metal object, knocking her down, according to police.

Police haven't identified any suspects. The student declined medical treatment.

Lafayette Police Department spokesman Cpl. Karl Ratcliff said investigators haven't found any witnesses or surveillance video to assist them. "Basically, all we have is her statement," Ratcliff said. "At this point, there's not really much else we can do with it."

San Diego State University police said Thursday they are investigating the attack on its campus as a hate crime. The woman was not hurt. Authorities said the assault occurred in a parking complex while the woman was wearing a hijab. The suspects stole her car keys, and the vehicle was later reported missing, authorities said.

In a statement, SDSU President Elliot Hirshman denounced the attack, calling hate crimes destructive to the spirit of the campus.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Thursday issued an information bulletin to law enforcement agencies, outlining laws that prohibit hate crimes.

The American Civil Liberties of Louisiana said it was outraged and troubled by the Lafayette student's report.

"We call on all Louisianians to reject anti-Muslim bigotry," the group said in a statement. "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 university's police department issued a statement notifying staff and students about the student's reported attack. In a separate statement that didn't mention the incident, university president E. Joseph Savoie called for unity after a "long, contentious presidential campaign."

"With the election behind us, we must now concentrate on trying to find common ground that will enable us to move forward- together - as a nation," Savoie said.

Kareem Attia, a 23-year-old graduate student who is president of the university's Muslim Student Association, said he didn't want to jump to any conclusions about whether the election results inspired the alleged attack.

"I don't think that's proper," he said. "But I will say a hate crime is a hate crime. It's not within our religion to accept it. It's not within our species of humans to accept that, either."


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.

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