Thank you for sharing the CNN. I looked into the original report and full report.
The report is not specific to Muslims.
surveyed 3,105 Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Jewish, and Sikh New Yorkers
about their experiences of bias harassment, discrimination, and acts
I think there are two reasons that lead to mistreatment. We shouldn't mix them together.
In the link it says:
- Being abused for being a Muslim ie others are bigots and don't like to see you. (CNN)
- Being abused for revealing yourself and getting attention. Men (both believers and non-believers) have a certain desire for women. (My link)
This verse is mainly focusing about not getting attention to yourself because of revealing yourself.** Otherwise non-believers will mock and abuse believers. It's been like this since man has step foot on earth. What you seek to not happen is part of the package.
The (main) purpose of hijab is not for a woman to feel physically safe. It's merely so that she doesn't let others enjoy her. As in if you want to enjoy a woman then go enjoy a non-Muslim or just marry another Muslim. Whether or not safety comes with it is an inconsequential byproduct. It's mainly a matter of modest (حیا). Just like how men don't want in the streets in their underwears.
There are also studies that reveal it does in fact make you safer. See 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman in Hijab where a women walked in NYC two times:
- wearing jeans, a t-shirt and a cardigan
- full covering hijab
The amount of harassment she got is incomparable!
Having that said if it was a matter of life and death then yes. Allah allows that.
فمن اضطر غير باغ ولا عاد فلا اثم عليه
But whoever is forced [by necessity], neither desiring [it] nor
transgressing [its limit], there is no sin upon him
Aside from that I know a lot of Muslims where in their own countries they were full black hijab. Then when they come to US, depending on how welcoming their neighborhood/city is, they change the color of their clothes so they blend in easier. Yet they never reduce their hijab (reveal some of their hair) or use makeup. Then when they travel back they use the full hijab. So that also might be something to consider.
**: In the time of the prophet, there were free women and slave women. Slave women had a lower social status (had less rights and responsibilities). They didn't have hijab. So anyone having hijab would mean to have a higher social status + less revealing of herself. Which ultimately means being less sought after by men.
Long story short this verse is not considerate of bigots which is the case of CNN's study. It's more considerate of men lusting for women.
If women who had hijab were being targeted more by men as rape targets then maybe we can start to question this verse.