Two other women strolling on Fifth Ave. in Midtown nearly had their clothes set afire the same night a Muslim woman’s blouse was burned — and now police believe the bizarre attack was not motivated by bias, the Daily News has learned.
The NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force has been helping cops look for the creep who walked up to Nemariq Al-Hinai and used a lighter to set the left sleeve of her blouse on fire Saturday night.
Al-Hinai, a 36-year-old Scottish tourist dressed in traditional Muslim garb, was window shopping in front of Valentino, near E. 55th St., when she felt the fire and managed to pat the blaze out, leaving her startled but unharmed.
Investigators no longer think she was victimized because of her religion because police have since located two other women, one white and one Hispanic, who were confronted either by the same man or a friend who was with him, officials said Wednesday. Neither of those women are Muslim and neither was dressed in any sort of clothing reflective of any faith.
“A hate crime investigator is still assigned to the case,” said Deputy Commissioner Stephen Davis, the NYPD’s top spokesman. “But at this time, based on new information, there is no commonality among the victims to indicate any possible bias.”
Davis said detectives trying to identify the man in the black tank top who burned Al-Hinai and the man with him at the time have found surveillance video from an incident that occurred moments earlier, near E. 57th St.
The video shows the other man, clad in a white T-shirt, using a lighter to try to burn a white woman’s leg, but she backed up and avoided injury. She has not been located by police.