Crimes against Muslims increase sharply in U.S.

President Barack Obama and civil rights leaders have warned about anecdotal evidence of a recent Muslim backlash, particularly in California.

Updated - November 17, 2021 02:31 am IST

Published - December 19, 2015 01:28 am IST - WASHINGTON:

Some Ahmadiyya Muslim Community members hold a prayer vigil for the victims of San Bernardino massacre in California. PHOTO: REUTERS

Some Ahmadiyya Muslim Community members hold a prayer vigil for the victims of San Bernardino massacre in California. PHOTO: REUTERS

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans and mosques across the United States have tripled in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, with dozens occurring within just a month, according to new data. The spike includes assaults on hijab -wearing students; arsons and vandalism at mosques; and shootings and death threats at Islamic-owned businesses, an analysis by a California State University research group has found.

President Barack Obama and civil rights leaders have warned about anecdotal evidence of a recent Muslim backlash, particularly in California. But the analysis is the first to document the rise, amid a crescendo of anti-Islamic statements from politicians.

“The terrorist attacks, coupled with the ubiquity of these anti-Muslim stereotypes seeping into the mainstream, have emboldened people to act upon this fear and anger,” said Brian Levin, a criminologist at California State University, San Bernardino. Mr. Levin runs a hate-crimes research group at the university, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, which produced the analysis and provided the results to The New York Times .

In recent years, there has been an average of 12.6 suspected hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. a month, based on FBI data. But the rate of attacks has tripled since the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 by Islamic State operatives, with 38 attacks regarded as anti-Islamic in nature, according to the analysis.

Eighteen of the episodes have come since the shooting in San Bernardino on Dec. 2.

The frequency of the recent attacks has not reached the levels seen in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but Mr. Levin said they were similar types of hate-crime attacks.

A week after the Paris attacks, a sixth-grade girl in the Bronx was reportedly attacked by three boys. In Pittsburgh, a passenger in a cab shot the driver, who was Muslim, in the back after the passenger angrily asked him about IS.

The most recent episode cataloged by the San Bernardino research group came on Tuesday, when a man reportedly pulled a knife on a Muslim woman at a carwash and threatened her. He was arrested, as the attackers have been in a number of other cases, but many of the episodes remain under investigation by federal and local authorities.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the tripling of hate crimes identified by the San Bernardino researchers corroborated anecdotal evidence his group had collected. — New York Times News Service

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