The New York Times reports that hate crimes against Muslim Americans have reached the highest levels since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, “an increase apparently fueled by terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad and by divisive language on the campaign trail.”
Data from researchers at California State University, San Bernardino found that hate crimes against Muslim Americans were up 78%, with those perceived to be Arab at an even higher increase. The report estimates that there were 260 hate crimes against Muslims nationwide in 2015. For comparison, in 2001, 481 hate crimes were reported.
Mohammed Malik attends the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce, Florida where Omar Mateen (the gunman in the Pulse nightclub shootings) had occasionally prayed. A week ago, a motorcyclist pulled up to the center, poured accelerant on the door and set the building afire in what many say is Florida’s worst-ever mosque attack. “There is a lot of negative rhetoric,” comments Mr. Malik. “The negative rhetoric is causing the hate, and in turn the hate is causing the violent acts.”
“We saw it after 9/11, and we continue to see an uptick in allegations of hate-related incidents today following the tragic events over the past year,” says Vanita Gupta, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. “We see criminal threats against mosques; harassment in schools; and reports of violence targeting Muslim-Americans, Sikhs, people of Arab or South-Asian descent and people perceived to be members of these groups.”