Prepared for SAALT by Radha Modi
Since the election of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016, SAALT has documented 110 hate incidents targeting those who are perceived or identify as Muslim, South Asian, Sikh, Middle Eastern, Arab, or Asian.
This total will soon surpass the hate incidents documented in SAALT’s latest report, “Power, Pain, Potential,” which documented 110 hate incidents targeting our communities during the divisive President elections from November 1, 2015 to November 7, 2016.
Three of the most common targets of hate incidents have been mosques/Muslim organizations, women, and youth. One-third of the documented hate incidents have been towards women, with a majority of assaults towards women wearing hijabs. The perpetrators, often white men, threatened the women and tried to pull off their hijabs. For instance, in Chicago, a group of young women wearing hijabs was verbally harassed by a white man shouting, “If you don’t like it in this country, leave.”
Another 25% of the hate incidents targeted mosques and Muslim organizations. Mosques and Muslim organizations have received threatening correspondence or incurred property damage including vandalism and arson. One recent instance occurred at the Murfreesboro Mosque in Tennessee, where unknown vandals spray painted obscenities on the exterior of the mosque and draped bacon on the front door handle.
The third major target of hate incidents has been youth, where 23% of hate incidents involved students and young people. Many of these incidents occurred on the streets, where complete strangers were the assailants, which continues to be a concern as young people are also facing bullying from peers as well. One such incident occurred during the early morning hours of June 18th. Nabra Hassanen, a 17 year old Muslim girl wearing a hijab, was out with her friends for a late night snack during Ramadan just a short walk from their mosque in Maryland. A white Latino man approached and harassed the group of friends. All of the youth were able to escape harm except for Nabra who was beaten and kidnapped. Her body was later found with signs of assault.
With the dehumanization of those who are perceived or identify as Muslim, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Arab, or Asian occurring at the intersections of gender, religion, race, and age, it is no surprise that women are the most common target of hate incidents.
From July 5-10, Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist who wears a hijab, has endured an onslaught of threats against her for the use of the word “jihad” in a speech on fighting against hate and injustice and defending vulnerable communities. Right wing media outlets and members of the administration have been leading the way on inciting violence towards her by misrepresenting her speech as a call for violence. Sarsour’s use of the term, which translates to “struggle”, has led to threats to her life, including vile threats of rape from Islamophobes.
With hate crimes on the rise, Americans across the country fear they will be targeted next. Americans, regardless of race, religion, identity, or national origin, deserve to live in peace and pray in safety.
Hate of any kind makes our country less safe. Those who threaten our communities or promote policies to demonize and rip our families apart are trying to drag our country backwards. SAALT will continue to push for laws and policies that protect our shared future, that embrace the ideals of equality and freedom, and make our country stronger together.