Islamic women gather to learn self-defense

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Dozens of women and children joined together to learn about self-defense Sunday.

The class at the Islamic Center of Tennessee drew around 40 women of all ages.

Some women of Islamic faith told News 2 they’re concerned their religiously-mandated wardrobes make them a target.

They tell us threats have become more of a concern following last year’s terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.

“Once the climate became what it is, we felt that it was really pressing and a necessity to have this,” organizer Aisha Lbhalla explained.

She went on to say that the remarks and even physical attacks are a real concern for women of Islamic faith.

“Women have enough violence against them. We are traditionally victims of sexual and physical violence, but now we have this added component of violence rooted in anti-Islamic bigotry.”

Among those that attended the female-led class Sunday were Sameerah El-Siraaj and her 8-year-old daughter.

“I know she’s going to walk out of here and feel a little more equipped to deal with what she has to on a daily basis anyways,” said El-Siraaj.

She explained that her daughter, a second grader, recently switched schools after constantly being bullied.

“One boy, he punched her in the throat, he kneed her in the groin, she’s been punched in the face before, she has had her head scarf pulled off,” El-Siraaj said.

Scarf grabs were among the techniques learned in class.

The four hours of training helped El-Siraaj feel more at ease as a mother.

“For her, I think it definitely empowers her more to know I’m not alone in this, I’m not the only one that’s being picked on, I’m not the only one that’s being bullied,” said El- Siraaj.

Organizers told News 2 the class was so successful that they plan to host more in the future.

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