Hate Crimes on the Rise in 2011 According to FBI

November 18, 2011

This month the FBI released its annual hate crimes report which showed a steady stream of hate crimes against minority communities and faith groups in 2010. In particular a disturbing trend has shown a 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes since 2009.The Muslim American community must not only deal with the industry of Islamophobes whose goals are to create fear and hate in the public square, but they are also dealing with hate crime abuses simply for being Muslim.

After a decline in anti-Muslim violence in 2009, the trend seems to be picking up again—and one must wonder why. With the aftermath of the Park 51 controversy and the presidential election campaigns underway, the national political climate is conspicuously becoming a marketplace for ill-mannered remarks on all things—including Islam. Perhaps while shaping the national discourse, some presidential candidates are creating a sense of anti-Muslim sentiment to be the norm. The discourse around the fabricated controversy of an impending takeover of Sharia law of our constitutional system has created a network of fear resulting in over 25 states considering some type of anti-Sharia legislation. Whether these bills actually pass is not the consideration of many of the sponsors, rather they are achieving their goals by further marginalizing the Muslim American community and creating a discourse of fear.

One actor playing on the stage of political theatre is Herman Cain who stated in March that he would be uncomfortable appointing a Muslim as either a federal judge or in a cabinet position because, “there is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.”

The 2010 FBI’s annual data on hate crimes showed some promising developments, however. The FBI reported that the number of law enforcement agencies submitting hate crimes has increased; this, however, is in contrast to the percentage of victims actually reporting a crime, which has decreased since 2008. There are two reasons why not reporting hate crimes is problematic; one being that justice of the law against the perpetrator is not served and the second highlights the trust issue of approaching law enforcement agencies by victims of minority communities. According to Paul LeGendre of Human Rights First, “one important step to combat all hate crime violence would be for the U.S. government to enhance police reporting of hate crimes.” To reach this goal, victims need to step forward in order for the nation to get a more accurate picture to the problem.  

It is the job of local law enforcement agencies, local civic and advocacy organizations and the Department of Justice to ensure that affected communities, who usually do not have access to redress mechanisms, are educated on how to report hate crimes. Hate crimes not only cause harm to the victims, it also causes harm to the fabric of a pluralistic and democratic society where differences are addressed through the civic process. To ensure that America continues to move toward a more just nation, our citizens must remain safe in their local communities.

This December 17th, MPAC will host the 11th Annual Convention in Los Angeles, CA. Part of the day-long event will include a workshop on “The Industry of Hate in the Public Square,” where the state of hate in America will be discussed as well as the tools to use to effectively combat hate and hate speech. 

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