The brutal and seemingly unprovoked attack on Ms. Ikram, who was born in the Bronx and is of Pakistani descent, came as Asian-Americans have in recent months been the victims of hate-fueled attacks in New York and across the nation. A mass shooting last month in the Atlanta area, which killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, and another mass shooting this month in Indianapolis, where four of the eight victims were Sikh, have only stoked widespread fear of the deadly consequences of xenophobia.
This week, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a leading civil rights group, called for the attack on Ms. Ikram to be investigated as a hate crime.
But Ms. Ikram and her father, who immigrated to the United States from Pakistan 30 years ago, said they did not believe it was racially motivated, in part because it seemed like the attacker waited specifically to target his daughter and not his wife.
A police spokeswoman said any decisions about whether the attack would be investigated as a hate crime would be made after an arrest took place.
Acid attacks occur worldwide, but are especially common in a few countries, including Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom and Uganda, according to the London-based Acid Survivors Trust International. The victims are disproportionately women, according to the group, and acid, which can disfigure someone for life, has traditionally been seen as a preferred weapon of vindictive men who accuse women of disloyalty or disobedience.
“The fact that they went for my face is definitely personal,” Ms. Ikram said.
The attack on Ms. Ikram began receiving more attention after the television host and author Padma Lakshmi posted about it on her Instagram page this week, asking people to donate to help pay for Ms. Ikram’s medical bills and provide any information that could help the police find the attacker. Mr. Ikram, 50, works as a driver for Ms. Lakshmi, he said.
“This is the nightmare of any parent, for this to happen to your child, to this innocent, young, promising girl, who has her whole life ahead of her,” Ms. Lakshmi said in the Instagram post. “I don’t know who in the world would do this, with acid like this. I don’t even know where you can get acid. I can’t stop thinking about her.”