Data compiled by researchers indicates that hate crimes against American Muslims have reached their highest heights since the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Crimes have been fueled by terrorist attacks in the United States and overseas, as well as by the tension arising due to the campaigns for presidency.
The increase in hate crimes against the Muslim population has gained the attention of scholars focusing on hate crimes and law-enforcement officials, who have reported on hundreds of attacks since 2015, including arson at mosques, threats of violence, assaults, and shootings.
Data from researchers at California State University San Bernardino discovered that hate crimes against Muslims are up a whopping 78 percent since 2015, although the most current statistics regarding hate crimes are not expected from the F.B.I. until November. Attacks on those who are perceived to be Arab rose even more rapidly over the year than it did those on actual Muslims. Police state, along with members of the news media, that in past months, there has been a constant flow of attacks against victims wearing the traditional attire of the Muslim faith, or those seen as being Middle Eastern.
The New York Times shares the belief of scholars in regard to the root reason for the backlash against American Muslims.
“Some scholars believe that the violent backlash against American Muslims is driven not only by the string of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States that began early last year, but also by the political vitriol from candidates like Donald J. Trump, who has called for a ban on immigration by Muslims and a national registry of Muslims in the United States.”
The political environment and the opinions which are being hurled at society in regard to specific religions and cultures and their impact on the United States appears to be directly correlated with the rise in hate crimes. Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, commented on this.
“We’re seeing these stereotypes and derogative statements become part of the political discourse. The bottom line is we’re talking about a significant increase in these types of hate crimes.”
Levin went on to state that the increase in anti-Muslim violence occurred directly after some of Trump’s comments regarding terrorism and immigration.
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The Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida was the most recent target of violence against Muslims, after an arsonist on a motorbike started a fire that overtook the center. It was at this location that the gunman in the June Orlando nightclub shooting, Omar Mateen, sometimes went for prayer.
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A man was arrested in the area for the attack after being found out on social media, where he had criticized Islam. The arson has left many Muslims scared and worried about worshiping freely at their mosque, as Mohammed Malik, an attendee of the mosque for almost a decade, shared.
“There is a lot of negative rhetoric. The negative rhetoric is causing the hate, and in turn the hate is causing the violent acts.”
A study from Mr. Levin’s group that has been based on documentation and reports from police officials in 20 states, state that there were around 260 hate crimes against American Muslims nationwide in 2015. This is the highest amount since the 481, following September 11, 2001, were documented.
At the same time that hate crimes against Muslims spiked, crimes against almost all other groups, “including blacks, Hispanics, Jews, gays and whites — either declined or increased only slightly.” Only one other group saw a dramatic increase in hate crimes, that being transgender people, which rose by approximately 40 percent over the year.
Additionally, researchers indicate that those incidents reported do not even account for a true tally, seeing as many who are attacked or become victims of hate crimes do not feel comfortable, or are fearful, to report.
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