A 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 can’t afford to lower their guards, Omar Rachid, a board member at the Victoria Islamic Center, told the San Antonio Express-News after Marq Vincent Perez was convicted of burning the mosque.
Rachid then made a claim that made 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,” he said, adding: “Islamophobia is thriving. This is not America. It is not the America I came to 35 years ago.”
We don’t have a way to count insults. But, we found, the FBI and others tabulate anti-Muslim attacks and hate crimes.
Rachid told us he based his declaration on accounts of upticks tied to FBI figures indicating 307 incidents of U.S. anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2016, which marked a 19 percent increase from 2015.
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.
“Assaults are not the only form of hate crime carried out against Muslims and other religious groups,” a blog post by the Pew Research Center noted. “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.
Next, we looked 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. That count includes more than assaults.
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 — up more than 1,600 percent from 28 in 2000. According to the FBI, such incidents decreased 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 307 incidents for 2016 and 257 for 2015 — numbers well shy of the 481 anti-Muslim incidents reported in 2001.
Rachid also pointed us to a July 2017 analysis of hate crimes against U.S. Muslims by Brian Levin, who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Levin’s article, covering every year since 9/11, says that from 2002 to 2014, the FBI’s counts of anti-Muslim crimes receded to a range of 105 to 160. The 257 tally for 2015 was the highest since 2001 and, the article says, the second-highest total of anti-Muslim hate crimes since the agency began eliciting reports of hate crimes from police agencies in 1992.
Not only did anti-Muslim crime cases rise numerically, the article says, they grew as a percentage of all hate crimes, accounting in 2015 for 4.4 percent of all reported hate crimes even though Muslims are estimated to be only 1 percent of the population, the article says.
Levin told us that in 2016, per FBI figures, anti-Muslim hate crimes accounted for 5 percent of all hate crimes.
Hoping for more up-to-date information, we approached several nongovernment groups about research into anti-Muslim incidents. This tack drew data only from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which says it challenges stereotypes of Islam and Muslims.
The council’s annual civil rights report published in April tallied 2,599 U.S. anti-Muslim “bias incidents,” including 300 hate crimes — a count exceeding the council’s tally of 2,213 incidents in 2016 by 17 percent.
“Based on the numbers we report, we have documented more anti-Muslim bias incidents and anti-Muslim hate crimes from 2015 to present than were documented in the year immediately following September 11, 2001,” Zainab Arain, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told us.
Rachid said: “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.”
Incidents confirmed by the pro-Muslim Council on American-Islamic Relations support this statement. Also, FBI hate-crime statistics drawn from police departments indicate there were more anti-Muslim assaults in 2016 than after 9/11 though its counts generally indicate there were more anti-Muslim incidents overall after 9/11.
We rate this claim Mostly True.
Statement: ‘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.’