Muslim woman set on fire in Midtown New York

NYPD searching for a man suspected of setting fire to a traditionally dressed Muslim woman. The woman was not injured.

Ben Ariel ,

New York Police Department
New York Police Department

Police in New York City are searching for a man suspected of setting fire to a traditionally dressed Muslim woman in a Midtown shopping area, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Police said they were investigating the incident, which occurred the day before the 15th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, as a hate crime.

The 35-year-old woman was standing outside a luxury clothing boutique on Park Avenue on Saturday evening when she felt her left arm suddenly heat up and noticed her blouse was on fire, city police said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

"She patted out the fire and observed a male standing next to her with a lighter in his hand," police said.

The victim, who local media reported was a tourist from Scotland, was not injured and declined medical attention, police said.

The suspect fled before officers arrived.

On Tuesday, police released video surveillance footage of the suspect, a slim young-looking man wearing a backwards baseball cap walking down a sidewalk. No arrests have been made, noted Reuters.

The incident follows the murder last month of an imam and his close friend, who were shot in the head by a gunman as they left a mosque in borough of Queens, an incident local Muslims have insisted was a hate crime.

The Council on Islamic American Relations condemned the latest incident, saying it followed an increasing number of attacks targeting Muslims in the United States.

"We are clearly seeing a spike in attacks on individual Muslims and Islamic institutions in New York and around the country," the group said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

"It is time for the mayor and the NYPD to put forward the necessary resources to investigate and prevent these attacks on the Muslim community,” it added.