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2016 the worst year for American Muslims since 2001

By       Message Abdus-Sattar Ghazali       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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Bosnian Islamic Association of Utica, New York
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Three mosques in California were sent anonymous hate-mail in November warning them that Donald Trump would "cleanse" Muslims from the US the same way "Hitler did to the Jews."

This story best reflects the dilemma of the seven-million-strong Muslim American Community during the presidential election year. The year 2016 was perhaps the worst year for American Muslims since 2001 .

The New York Times pointed out: Hate crimes against American Muslims have soared to their highest levels since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to data compiled by researchers, an increase apparently fueled by terrorist attacks in the United States and abroad and by divisive language on the campaign trail. The trend has alarmed hate crime scholars and law-enforcement officials, who have documented hundreds of attacks -- including arsons at mosques, assaults, shootings and threats of violence -- since the beginning of 2015.

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Political rhetoric plays an important role in mitigating or fueling hate crimes. USA Today said Trump's inflammatory rhetoric and policy positions have made many groups feel unsafe on Twitter. Trump has suggested banning Muslims from entering the U.S., has said "Islam hates us," suggested the surveillance of mosques, and has talked about "profiling" of Muslims as a response to terrorism. According to AOL Global, 15 years after the 2001 terrorist attack, Muslim Americans still face discrimination in their everyday lives.

A study reported by Huffington Post indicated hate crime in U.S. survey was up 6 percent but Anti-Muslim rose to 89 percent. A new report from California State University-San Bernardino's Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism suggests that anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. rose sharply to the highest levels since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. "We're seeing these stereotypes and derogative statements become part of the political discourse," said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at the San Bernardino campus. "The bottom line is we're talking about a significant increase in these types of hate crimes."

Police and news media reports in recent months have indicated a continued flow of attacks, often against victims wearing traditional Muslim garb or seen as Middle Eastern, the New York Times said adding: "Some scholars believe that the violent backlash against American Muslims is driven not only by the string of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States that began early last year, but also by the political vitriol from candidates like Donald J. Trump, who has called for a ban on immigration by Muslims and a national registry of Muslims in the United States."

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A Georgetown University report released in May 2016 similarly found that threats, intimidation and violence against Muslim Americans have surged over the course of the presidential election.

According to the report, in the period between March 2015 and March 2016, there have been 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence. These include 12 murders, 34 physical assaults, 56 acts of vandalisms, nine arsons, and eight shootings and bombings.

Last September, a leading Muslim civil advocacy group reported that 2016 is on track to be one of the worst years ever for anti-mosque incidents, with a total of 55 cases recorded as of mid-September. The majority of the 2016 incidents have been violent in tone, characterized by intimidation, physical assault and property damage, destruction or vandalism. In the first two weeks of September, three incidents targeting mosques have occurred. The most destructive of these has been in Florida, where a mosque was intentionally set ablaze and a suspect arrested.

Here are few examples of hate crimes:

On Oct 25, an Agoura Hills Man was arrested and accused of making criminal threats against the Islamic Center of Southern California, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Mark Feigin, 40, was accused of making two calls to the Islamic Center in September, threatening to kill local Muslims and violence against the ICSC. Police found a stash of weapons, including riffles, modified ammunition magazines and ammunition inside Feigin's home.

In October, Abdul Usmani's father, Dr. Zeeshan-ul-hassan Usmani, told BuzzFeed News that his wife and three sons have left the US for Pakistan after his7-year-old boy was beaten by five students on a school bus. This was the latest incident in a long history of discrimination towards his children and family.

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More alarmingly, Muslim-Americans are receiving anonymous robocalls asking for religious affiliation. The New York Daily News reported on November 22 that several Muslim-Americans received mysterious robocalls asking them whether they identify as a follower of Islam.

In the meantime, a number of libraries across the U.S. reported that they have seen an increased number of anti-Muslim acts of vandalism and hate speech in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. The Guardian reported on December 12 a survey by the American Libraries Association (ALA), which found that copies of the Koran and books about Islam have been defaced with swastikas and other hate speech at a number of libraries.

The Trump rhetoric is not only fomenting hate crimes against the Muslims but also other minorities. On November 1, a historic African-American church in Greenville, Mississippi, was burned down and vandalized with "Vote Trump" graffiti. Local and federal officials were investigating the fire at the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church as a hate crime. The words "Vote Trump" were spray-painted on the side of the burned-out church, which was home to a congregation of 200 members. Greenville is a city of around 35,000 inhabitants in northwestern Mississippi, on the border with Arkansas. The vast majority of its residents are African-American.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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