FBI: Hate crimes against Mus­lims up by 67% in 2015

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Christina A. Cas­sidy

AT­LANTA >> Re­ported hate crimes against Mus­lims rose in 2015 to their high­est num­ber since the af­ter­math of the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks, ac­cord­ing to FBI statis­tics re­leased Mon­day.

Over­all, the to­tal num­ber of hate crimes against all groups re­ported by law en­force­ment agen­cies to the FBI in­creased from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 last year. That re­mains far lower than the num­bers seen in the early 2000s, but the FBI re­lease comes amid nu­mer­ous re­ports of at­tacks na­tion­wide based on race and re­li­gion fol­low­ing last week’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The most re­cent re­port­ing cov­ers cal­en­dar year 2015, which in­cluded the ter­ror at­tacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Cal­i­for­nia, as well as Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump’s call for a ban on all Mus­lims en­ter­ing the U.S. All of those, how­ever, did not oc­cur un­til the fi­nal two months of the year.

It’s not yet known whether Trump plans to im­ple­ment such a ban now that he has won the presidency. Crit­ics say his pledge has con­trib­uted to an­tiMus­lim sen­ti­ment.

“We’ve seen how words from public fig­ures like Don­ald Trump trans­late into vi­o­lence,” said Mark Po­tok with the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter, which tracks hate groups in the U.S.

Last year, there were 257 re­ported in­ci­dents of an­tiMus­lim bias com­pared to 154 the year be­fore, a 67 per­cent in­crease. The num­ber of re­ported hate crimes against Mus­lims peaked at 481 in 2001.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Relations, said he was not sur­prised to see the large in­crease in 2015 and said he ex­pects the trend to con­tinue.

“We saw a spike in an­tiMus­lim in­ci­dents na­tion­wide be­gin­ning to­ward the end of 2015. That spike has con­tin­ued un­til to­day and even ac­cel­er­ated after the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent-elect Trump,” Hooper said.

There have been re­ports of racist and anti-re­li­gious in­ci­dents around the coun­try since the Nov. 8 elec­tion.

Two stu­dents at a vo­ca­tional school in York County, Penn­syl­va­nia, held a Don­ald Trump sign in a hall­way as some­one shouted “white power,” an in­ci­dent cap­tured on video and widely shared on Face­book.

In Sil­ver Spring, Mary­land, a ban­ner ad­ver­tis­ing a Span­ish-lan­guage ser­vice at an Epis­co­pal church was slashed and the words “Trump na­tion. Whites only” were writ­ten on the back.

Au­thor­i­ties on two Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity cam­puses, in San Diego and San Jose, were in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports that two women wearing head­scarves were at­tacked. At San Diego State Univer­sity, au­thor­i­ties said a Mus­lim woman had her car keys and ve­hi­cle stolen by two men who tar­geted her while she wore a hi­jab and made com­ments about Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion.

At the same time, a video­taped as­sault in Chicago showed black men beat­ing a white man as on­look­ers screamed, “You voted Trump!”

On Sun­day, Trump said he had not heard re­ports that some of his sup­port­ers might be ha­rass­ing mi­nori­ties.

“I am so sad­dened to hear that,” Trump said dur­ing an in­ter­view with CBS’s “60 Min­utes.” ‘’And I say, stop it. If it, if it helps, I will say this and I will say right to the cam­eras: Stop it.”

Ac­cord­ing to the FBI re­port, the ma­jor­ity of hate crimes were mo­ti­vated by bias against race or eth­nic­ity. Of the 4,216 vic­tims of a hate crime mo­ti­vated by race or eth­nic­ity, 52 per­cent were black, 18.7 per­cent were white and 9.3 per­cent were His­panic or Latino. Crimes against Jews in­creased about 9 per­cent, while bias in­ci­dents in­volv­ing sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion were up 3.5 per­cent.

Civil rights groups have ex­pressed con­cern that a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion could rad­i­cally re­shape the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to polic­ing but also in terms of the pri­or­ity placed on hate crimes. Those con­cerns were com­pounded over the weekend after Trump named as his chief White House strate­gist Steve Ban­non, who came to his cam­paign from Bre­it­bart News. Un­der his lead­er­ship, the Bre­it­bart web­site be­came one of the lead­ing out­lets of the so-called alt-right, a move­ment of­ten as­so­ci­ated with far-right ef­forts to pre­serve “white iden­tity” and op­pose mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.

Michael Lieber­man with the Anti-Defama­tion League said there have been “un­prece­dented ef­forts” to ad­dress hate crimes in re­cent years, from out­reach to law en­force­ment, com­mu­nity meet­ings and an em­pha­sis on co­op­er­a­tion among fed­eral agen­cies.

Any in­creases, in­clud­ing the ones seen in anti-Mus­lim crimes, could be due in part to more re­port­ing by vic­tims as well as bet­ter re­port­ing and track­ing by law en­force­ment agen­cies. The num­ber of law en­force­ment agen­cies send­ing data on hate crimes to the FBI de­creased by about 3 per­cent in 2015.

An AP in­ves­ti­ga­tion ear­lier this year found 17 per­cent of lo­cal law en­force­ment agen­cies had not sub­mit­ted a sin­gle hate crime re­port dur­ing the past six years as part of the FBI’s track­ing pro­gram, prompt­ing con­cerns that an un­der­count was mask­ing the true scope of hate and bias crimes in the U.S.

“Gaps in par­tic­i­pa­tion and in­com­plete re­port­ing demon­strate ma­te­ri­ally that this work must con­tinue, and we will be press­ing the Trump Jus­tice Depart­ment and U.S. at­tor­neys so this im­por­tant work will be on­go­ing,” Lieber­man said.

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