ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Police in Michigan on Wednesday debunked a Muslim student’s allegation that was widely cited as an example of a spike in anti-Muslim incidents in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.
The woman reported in mid-November that a man approached her near the University of Michigan campus and threatened to set her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab. The Ann Arbor Police Department said in a statement that “following a thorough investigation, detectives have determined the incident in question did not occur.”
Michigan’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said at the time that the reported incident was “just the latest anti-Muslim incident” since Trump’s Nov. 8 win.
On Wednesday, after police released their findings, CAIR’s national spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, said the apparently false report shouldn’t be used to discredit what he called the “many, many incidents of anti-Muslim hate.”
But he also stood by assertions that the number of actual threats against Muslim rose after Election Day.
“If you have a spike in reports, you will have some increase in false reports,” he said.
After a report of the alleged Nov. 11 incident, the university issued a crime alert that said the woman took off her hijab and left the area. And police said the suspect was a white man with an “unkempt appearance” and “intoxicated with slurred speech.”
The FBI and police at the University of Michigan also aided in the investigation. The evidence disproving that the incident occurred, police said, included surveillance footage and what investigators said were the victim’s inconsistent accounts.
The student was not named by police or by CAIR. The police statement said results of the investigation would be forwarded to a county prosecutor’s office, suggesting charges against the student are at least a possibility.