Texan says U.S. Muslims lately subject to more attacks, hate crimes than ever

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Texan says U.S. Muslims lately subject to more attacks, hate crimes than ever
The new Victoria Islamic Center under construction July 20, 2018 (JOSIE NORRIS, San Antonio Express-News)

A Texas member of a Muslim congregation said after a man was convicted of setting its mosque on fire that the United States isn’t what it used to be.

“Muslims in America have been subjected to more insults, attacks and hate crimes in the last two or three years than ever before, specifically more than after 9-11.”    — Omar Rachid on Saturday, July 21st, 2018 in a San Antonio Express-News story

Muslims can’t afford to lower their guards, Omar Rachid, a board member at the Victoria Islamic Center, told the San Antonio Express-News for a July 2018 news story stating that Marq Vincent Perez, just convicted of burning the mosque, faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in October 2018.

Rachid then made a claim making us wonder: “The reality of it is that Muslims in America have been subjected to more insults, attacks and hate crimes in the last two or three years than ever before, specifically more than after 9/11,” Rachid said, adding: “Islamophobia is thriving. This is not America. It is not the America I came to 35 years ago.”

We didn’t divine how to pin trends in insults. But, we found, the FBI and others tabulate anti-Muslim attacks and hate crimes.

Have records recently been set? By phone, Rachid told us he based his declaration on accounts of upticks tied to FBI figures; he emailed us web links to news stories and a commentary published in 2017 and 2018.

Included was a November 2017 Pew Research Center blog post citing FBI figuresindicating 307 incidents of U.S. anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2016, which marked a 19 percent increase from 2015.

Pew’s post specifies that a record was set in 2016 in the subcategory of anti-Muslim assaults, which rose significantly between 2015 and 2016, per the FBI, easily surpassing the previous peak reached in 2001, the year of the 9/11 attacks. For 2016, the FBI reported 127 reported Muslim victims of aggravated or simple assault, compared with 91 the year before and 93 in 2001, Pew’s post says.

SOURCE: Blog post, “Assaults against Muslims in U.S. surpass 2001 level,” Fact Tank, Pew Research Center, Nov. 15, 2017 (accessed July 31, 2018)

“But assaults are not the only form of hate crime carried out against Muslims and other religious groups,” Pew’s post says. “The most common is intimidation, which is defined as reasonable fear of bodily harm. Anti-Muslim intimidation also increased in 2016, with 144 reported victims, compared with 120 the previous year.” Pew cautioned, though, that the 2016 “intimidation” count was “dwarfed by the 296 victims of anti-Muslim intimidation in 2001” tallied by the FBI.

A general caution: Pew and others that explore anti-Muslim activism stress that the FBI collects hate crime data from about 15,000 law enforcement agencies that voluntarily participate, which means the statistics likely undercount hate crimes.

FBI reports on anti-Muslim incidents

Next, we looked directly at the FBI’s annual reports on hate crimes, which the agency defines as “criminal offenses motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against” a particular group such as a religion, race or sexual orientation.

It looked to us like the greatest percentage spike in reported anti-Islamic incidents occurred between 2000 and 2001. For the latter year, the FBI tallied 481 anti-Islamic incidents–a count up more than 1,600 percent from 28 in 2000. According to the FBI, such incidents decreased by 68 percent to 155 the next year and then dipped to 149 in 2003 before escalating to 156 in 2004.

We also reviewed the agency’s recent tallies, finding there was not a bigger-than-post-9/11 spike in incidents in recent years — though the numbers have been on the rise. The 307 incidents noted for 2016 compare to 257 reported incidents in 2015, the FBI says, and that count was up 67 percent from 154 anti-Muslim incidents reported in 2014.

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