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Muslim Student Attacked at San Jose State University

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San Jose State University sophomore Esra Altun outside SJSU's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library on Nov. 10, 2016. (Beth Willon/KQED)

San Jose State University campus police are investigating a reported attack on a Muslim student in a parking garage Wednesday.

Sophomore psychology major Esra Altun was standing next to her car Wednesday when she says a male attacker grabbed her headscarf from behind and violently pulled it back, making it hard to breathe.

Altun was walking on the third floor of the West Garage at South Fourth and East San Salvador streets around 2:10 p.m. when the attack occurred.

She says the man said nothing, ran away, and that she didn’t see his face.

The 19-year-old said the presidential election of Donald Trump might have something to do with it because of his earlier anti-Muslim remarks.


"It would be such a weird coincidence, first of all, for someone to pull my hijab off right after the election results," Altun said.

There were no cameras in that corner of the garage.

A spokeswoman for San Jose State said an investigation continues and the school president is monitoring it closely, but no arrests have been made.

The suspect was described as a fair-skinned male who wore a dark-colored hoodie and khaki pants, according to school officials.

"We are, of course, very concerned that this has occurred on our campus," university spokeswoman Pat Lopes Harris said in a statement Thursday. "No one should experience this kind of behavior at San Jose State."

No arrests have been made as of Thursday morning in the attack, which remains under investigation, Harris said.

Altun says she was born in Uzbekistan and moved to the U.S. when she was 10 years old. She lives with her parents in Sunnyvale. Her father is Kurdish and her mother is Russian.

Anyone with information on the case is asked to call university police at (408) 924-2222. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call the department's CrimeStoppers line at (408) 924-2236 or send an email to sjsu@tipnow.org.

KQED's Don Clyde and Bay City News contributed to this report.

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