Incidents of hate crimes, particularly against African-Americans, Jews and Muslims, went up to 6,121 during 2016, seeing an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the previous year, according to data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Monday (Nov. 13).
A hate crime is defined by the FBI as a “criminal offence against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity”.
According to the FBI report, Jews and Muslims were the two most common targets of religiously-motivated hate crimes. There were increases in reported hate crimes across the board compared to 2015. Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by nearly 20 percent, anti-white by 17 percent, anti-Latino by 15 percent, and anti-Jewish by 3 percent.
In its report, the FBI notes: “In 2016, the nation’s law enforcement agencies reported that there were 7,615 victims of hate crimes.” The data also show that, “Of the 1,584 victims of anti-religious hate crimes” 24.5 percent were victims of anti-Islamic (Muslim) bias.
“We have all witnessed the anger and prejudice that characterized last year’s election season, and that is growing nationwide in the current political environment,” said CAIR National Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia Director Corey Saylor.”To reverse this disturbing trend toward increased hatred and societal division, we must stand up to bigotry and the targeting of minority groups.”
CAIR’s own preliminary data, derived from different sources than the FBI, reveals that so far, anti-Islam prejudice incidents are up 9 percent in the first three quarters of 2016 over the previous year. So far this year, the organization has recorded 195 anti-Islam hate crimes.
Although the FBI report is the most comprehensive look at the nation’s hate crimes released every year, the report is known to be woefully inadequate — because it may undercount the number by the hundreds of thousands, based on other federal surveys, VOX said adding:
“But the report gives a glimpse at the numbers in a year in which concerns about hate crimes skyrocketed due to President Donald Trump’s campaign and election. Research shows that support for Trump was driven largely by racial resentment, and Trump played into that resentment with his own racist rhetoric. As a result, Trump’s election led to widespread fears that there would be an emboldening of racist acts across America. (Indeed, some attendees at the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August — made up of white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members — cited Trump a s partial inspiration for the demonstration.)”
In the month after Trump was elected, there were more than 860 reports of hate attacks to the Southern Poverty Law Center — including school teachers making Islamophobic comments, students telling Latino peers that Trump would deport them, and outright physical violence that was seemingly motivated by racism, VOX pointed out.
There have also been reports of mosques being burned, violent attacks against Indians, and a drive-by shooting at the Tulsa, Oklahoma, headquarters for the LGBTQ organization Oklahomans for Equality. And then there were the white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, in which a Nazi sympathizer allegedly killed a woman after he drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Not all of these attacks have been verified as acts motivated by bigotry, but they’re certainly a cause for alarm.
Tellingly, On Saturday, Nov 11, A man wielding a hammer damaged property at two mosques in Sunset Park and Bay Ridge over the weekend, the New York Police Department said. He smashed the windows and broke a security camera at the Beit El-Maqdis Islamic Center in Sunset Park. Then, about 30 minutes later, he appeared at the Fatih Camii Mosque, according to police. “Apparently that individual used a hammer to smash a mail box and a door handle,” an NYPD spokesman told Patch. The NYPD is investigating the incidents as a hate crime.
On November 4, vandals put up hateful and anti-Semitic posters on Temple Or Rishon Jewish synagogue in Orangevale, California walls. The Department of Homeland Security is offering tens of thousands of dollars to religious institutions to help safeguard their houses of worship. Temple Or Rishon is one of the recipients of this nationwide grant program.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gmail.com