(FinalCall.com) – A new Federal Bureau of Investigation report documents what Muslims across the country have known to be a fact since September 11, 2001: There has been a dramatic increase in hate crimes that have targeted Arabs, Muslims and others who “look like” Muslims.
The FBI reports annually on hate crimes, which it defines as acts of violence or intimidation inspired by prejudice. It found hate crimes against Muslims rose by more than 1,500 percent in 2001. The findings were published by the Uniform Crime Reporting Program released Nov. 25. The final hate crime data for 2001 can be found in its annual publication, “Hate Crime Statistics.”
According to the report, 481 incidents targeting Muslims and others who appeared to be Muslims during 2001 were documented, up from a mere 28 incidents in all of 2000.
Although the report did not say how many of the incidents happened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, it is reasonable to conclude the majority of the crimes didn’t occur until the last quarter of 2001, law enforcement and many Muslim groups feel. It makes the statistics all the more staggering, Muslims add.
Equally jolting findings in the report revealed hate crimes against people of Middle Eastern origin or descent more than quadrupled from 354 in 2000 to 1,501 in 2001.
Hate crimes against people of Middle Eastern ancestry skyrocked from last in 2000 at 453, to second in 2001, with 1,822 reported incidents. The only group with higher rates of victimization were Blacks, who are perennially first and were victims in 3,700 incidents.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of Minaret of Freedom, a Bethesda, Md.-based think tank, told the Associated Press people of the Islamic faith remain very concerned about the future.
“There are a lot of accusations against Muslims and suspicions against Muslims being perpetrated. There are many people who are behaving more cautiously,” he said.
Many Muslims are also very worried about the backlash that would occur should the United States prosecute a war with Iraq. Muhammad Alquaid, a U.S. citizen of Saudi Arabian heritage, told The Final Call that he faults the media.
“The media is driving the hate against Muslims,” he said.
“When the Oklahoma bombings took place, we never found out if the guy was a Christian, Jew or Hindu. But typically when a Muslim does something against the practices of Islam, the first thing we are told is it was an Islamic militant,” he said.
The vast majority of perpetrators of hate crimes were White, the report found. Most of the incidents against Muslims involved assaults and intimidation. There were, however, three cases of murder and 35 cases of arson.
Imam Suetwedien A. Muhammad, of the Philadelphia-based Masjid Muhammad, told The Final Call that he was concerned about recent anti Muslim statements made by mainstream U.S. Christian evangelical leaders such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.
“Their comments (about Islam as an evil religion) and the stances they have been taking, I think for religious persons to be in such high positions, they should be more intelligent. They should also be more careful because a lot of people listen to them. They should think before they speak and especially in the manner they are speaking,” Imam Suetwedien said.
Though many believe it to be mere lip service, President Bush and others in his administration have characterized Islam as a peaceful religion and that the majority of its adherents are innocent people.