Prepared by Radha Modi
This week’s report on hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern highlights two notable shifts in trends. For the first time, physical assaults post-election have surpassed pre-election numbers. Additionally, there has been an increase in hate incidents in the Midwest region of the U.S., with percentages close to the Western and Eastern regional percentages.
As we approach the close of the first year of Donald Trump’s presidency, the total number of hate incidents have increased to 191 resulting in a 46% increase from pre-election year to post-election year (see Figure 1).
Of the 191 reported hate incidents, 65 incidents are physical assaults, 77 incidents are verbal or written threats, and 50 incidents involve property damage (see Figure 2). The most dramatic increase in hate incidents has involved verbal and written assaults over the past year. Recently, a Delaware man, Gerard Medvec, is facing hate crime charges for spying on and threatening his neighbors who he thought were Muslim. Post-election totals on physical assaults have also surpassed the totals from pre-election year. Physical assaults include acts such as shoving, punching, pulling, and spitting by the perpetrators. On October 7th, a 43-year old white man walked into a convenience store in Seattle, WA, and pepper sprayed two men and one woman wearing hijab. This attack was preceded by an anti-Muslim rant in the store. Finally, property damage often consisting of vandalism comprises the third category of hate incidents. Mosques are the most common target of hate incidents involving property damage. For example, figure 3 demonstrates that 21% of hate incidents involve damage or vandalism of mosques and Muslim community centers. This past week, Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Minnesota, which was bombed in August, was broken into and burglarized.
The most common victims of hate incidents are often women. Twenty-nine percent of the 191 documented hate incidents are against women who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab (see Figure 3). A majority of these hate incidents involve women wearing hijabs. Hate violence towards women underscores the role of intersectionality and the need for identifying these intersections in documenting hate.
The combination of gender, religious attire, skin color, accent, and other factors all play a part in how women are perceived and targeted in daily life. For men, as well, intersections of multiple factors contribute to how they are perceived and treated by others. Twenty-two percent of hate incidents are against men who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab. Youth are also vulnerable to hate incidents due to the intersections of race, name, skin color, gender, and religion with young age. Eighteen percent of hate incidents involved students and youth (Youth numbers overlap with percentages of hate incidents against women and men). Incidents not only occur on the streets from strangers but also in institutional settings where others bully and haze them.
A recent incident stands out in highlighting the violence that youth who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab face regularly, and the mental health crisis that can result from that trauma. Raheel Siddiqui, a young Muslim enlisted in the U.S. Marines, committed suicide during training this past March. According to his parents, his drill instructor incessantly hazed him for being Muslim. The instructor reportedly called him a terrorist and forced him to run laps until he collapsed. Superiors denied Raheel Siddiqui medical assistance and did not take seriously his threats to commit suicide. With increasing hate violence, community groups will need to hold institutional spaces such as schools, the military, and afterschool programs accountable in creating safe space for all youth.
Lastly, the rise in the number of hate incidents is regionally relevant (see Figure 4). The West Coast and East Coast continue to lead in hate incidents with slightly over half of incidents occurring in those regions of the U.S. Their lead, however, has shrunk over the weeks as the occurrence of hate incidents increased in the Midwest. Currently, 25% of hate incidents have occurred in places such as Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Southern regions of the U.S. have the lowest number of incidents making up 18% of the total.