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Hate crimes against Muslims spiked in 2015 at rate not seen since 9/11

by Tess Owen
Nov 14 2016, 11:57am

Hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. surged in 2015 in the biggest increase since 9/11, according to FBI data released Monday. The increase from 2014 to 2015, as a racially charged presidential campaign got under way, was second only to the increase experienced after 9/11.

There were 301 anti-Muslim offenses in 2015, compared to 178 in 2014, a 69 percent increase. Anti-Muslim hate crimes soared by 1,554 percent in the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks, from 33 offenses in 2000 to 546 the following year. That figure dropped back to 170 in 2002, and then steadily decreased throughout the 2000s, reaching an eight-year low of 123 in 2008, and have been slowly rising ever since.

Religious hate crimes overall had been trending down since 2010 before a seven percent uptick in 2015, according to the statistics made available Monday.

The release of the data comes at a time when many minorities are bracing for repercussions from Republican Donald Trump’s victory last week. Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, which he made in the wake of the Islamic State-claimed attack in San Bernardino, California, last December, became a centerpiece of his campaign.

By March, more than 50 percent of Americans said they supported his proposed ban, according to a survey by YouGov/Huffington Post.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Since Trump’s election last Tuesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center has counted more than 200 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation.” Many of those incidents targeted Muslims, including a man in Michigan saying he would set a Muslim female student on fire unless she removed her hijab.

A woman at San Jose University in California reported having her hijab pulled so hard that it choked her. Someone reportedly vandalized a prayer room at New York University’s student Islamic Center with “Trump” graffiti.

In California, a female student wearing a hijab was reportedly confronted by two men who made comments about Trump and Muslims.

In an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday evening, Leslie Stahl asked Trump about the uptick in hate crimes since the election. Trump said he hadn’t heard about these incidents — though they were widely reported — but was saddened to hear of them and urged people to “stop it.”

This was the the first time the FBI listed “anti-Arab” attacks among the hate crimes, which accounted for about 1 percent of attacks targeting a person’s race. More than half of the victims of racially motivated attacks were black. More than half of the victims of hate crimes targeting a person’s religion were Jewish, a decrease of 7 percent from 2014.