Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States shot up 67% in 2015 to their highest levels since the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, according to new FBI statistics.
Overall, 57% of the 5,850 reported incidents were motivated by race or ethnicity, while 20% of hate crimes were related to religious bias, the federal law enforcement agency reported on Monday.
There were 257 incidents of anti-Muslim bias in 2015, compared to 154 the previous year.
The number is second only to the surge in hate crimes following the 9/11 attacks in 2001 when 481 incidents against Muslims were reported.
While there was a huge increase against Muslims, Jews remained the most frequent target of religious-based hate crimes in the US, representing 53% of all those reported, the FBI said.
The bureau’s report also listed 1,053 hate crimes regarding sexual orientation, 19% of which were committed against gay males.
The report came at a time of heightened racial and religious tensions in the US following last week’s presidential election.
“I think these statistics are just a fraction of what we see on the ground right now,” Ibrahim Hooper, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Al Jazeera.
“We witnessed a spark in the number of hate crimes against Muslims in late 2015, and this number increased further during Donald Trump’s election campaign.
“We expect the situation to get worse in the future, based on the fact that Donald Trump had mainstreamed Islamophobia.”
President-elect Trump’s campaign had heavily focused on minorities, immigrants and Muslims, routinely painting these groups as threats to peace, the economy, and homeland security.
Famously while campaigning, Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the US.
He also promised to build a wall to block Mexicans.
In the first television interview since his election, Trump said he was planning to immediately deport or jail as many as three million undocumented immigrants.
There have been several reports of racist, Islamophobic and anti-semitic incidents since last Tuesday’s election that have sparked outrage, including a mosque at New York University’s Brooklyn campus being vandalised, and several Muslim women reporting Trump supporters attempting to rip off their headscarves.
Black students at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) said they were afraid to attend classes after they were subjected to racial slurs and threats of lynching following the election.
A videotaped assault in Chicago showed black men beating a white man as onlookers screamed, “You voted Trump!”
Hundreds of Americans also detailed racist attacks that have taken place since the election on social media.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes across the United States, has counted more than 200 complaints since the Election Day on Nov 8, according to USA Today.
On Sunday, Trump further ignited civil rights organisations’ concerns by naming right-wing Breitbart news executive Stephen Bannon as his chief strategist and senior counsellor.
Under Bannon’s tenure, Breitbart pushed a nationalist agenda and became one of the leading outlets of the so-called alt-right – a movement often associated with white supremacist ideas that oppose multiculturalism and defend “Western values”.
“Donald Trump just named a white supremacist as chief strategist,” CAIR’s Hooper said.
“We have no reason to believe things are going to get better for the American Muslim community or other minorities anytime soon.”
Source: News Republic