As we are taught from elementary school, “America is a melting pot.” And in a pot packed with just about every ethnicity, religion, and home-country one could imagine, Muslims were never particularly conspicuous or threatening — until 9/11. With Americans in a state of shock and terror, emotions sometimes eclipsed logic and tragically led to brutal hate crimes against the perceived “perpetrators” of that terrible event. 12 years later, the dust and debris have long since settled. Has the violence?
Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes Spike After 9/11
Hate crimes are not a new phenomenon. They have been going on around the world for nearly as long as civilization has existed, targeting a slew of various racial, religious, and sexual minority groups with hatred, intimidation, and violence.
Immediately after 9/11, hate crimes targeting Muslims and Arabs — and even beyond that, virtually anyone whose skin seemed to be roughly the right shade of brown — spiked dramatically. And “dramatically” is an understatement: according to an intelligence report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, there was a jaw-dropping spike of over 1,600%. For the first six years following 9/11, the U.S. Justice Department reported over 800 violent incidents perpetrated against Muslims and Arabs, or anyone assumed to be a part of those groups.
Then and Now
While sadly, hate crimes targeted against people of Middle-Eastern descent did not — and have not — fizzled out entirely, as the years passed and the emotions cooled, the attacks did see a decrease in frequency. By 2002, only one year after the events of 9/11, hate crimes aimed at Muslims (and perceived Muslims) had dwindled to about a third of what they had been in 2001. By 2009, Muslim-geared hate crimes had decreased even further, to approximately 20% of the enormous rates seen in 2001.
The general decline of anti-Muslim and -Arab hate crimes is a heartening step in the right direction. However, as turmoil in the Middle East drags on, the yearly anniversary of 9/11 seems to be a trigger for a resurgence in incidents — and the violence goes beyond the physical.
In 2011 — a full decade after 9/11 — an imam (a leader of prayer at a mosque) opened his mail on September 10th only to find a package containing a burnt Koran and anti-Muslim cartoons scrawled with hate speech. Prabhjot Singh, who is a Sikh — not a Muslim — was also attacked in recent times; mere weeks ago, in fact. On Saturday, September 21st, 2013 (which is especially poignant, given that date’s designation as an International Day of Peace) he was accosted by a group of men in Harlem. Sikh says that one of the men grabbed his beard, amidst chanted insults like “Osama” and “terrorist.” He was beaten to the point of losing consciousness, and ultimately had to have his broken jaw wired back together by a surgeon.
Hate crimes against Muslims are decreasing — but they’re not gone yet. If you or someone you know has been the victim of a hate crime geared toward any group, fight for restitution: contact Seth Koslow today.