YLI Reflections: Combating Islamophobia with Rupa Palanki

My high school history teacher, quoting Mark Twain, often said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” For centuries in the United States, minority groups, ranging from Eastern European immigrants to Japanese Americans, have faced discrimination from more established populations due to a sense of “otherness” that they are invariably perceived to disseminate. This has resulted in dark chapters of history in a nation that prides itself as “the home of the free and the brave.” The recent rise in hatred against Muslims is just another iteration of the same story.

With the 9/11 attacks happening only three years after I was born, life, as I know it, has included a constant undercurrent of backlash in the United States against Muslims. At present, the current administration continues to relentlessly engage in anti-Muslim rhetoric and news headlines continue to blame Islam for select acts of violence perpetuating false, negative perceptions of the Muslim community. At school and in my city, I have personally witnessed how lack of a nuanced understanding breeds bigotry and discrimination. Many people in my hometown in Alabama have never left the state or interacted with Muslims before, and their bias towards Muslims stems from stereotypes that have been perpetrated over generations. And often at college, I am the first South Asian American that my peers have conversed with for an extended period of time, leading them to ask questions about my culture, religion, and language or mistakenly identifying me as Muslim instead of Hindu.

Because of this personal exposure to islamophobia, I developed a desire to better understand the phenomenon and to equip myself to combat it within my community. This, in part, was what motivated me to apply for SAALT’s Young Leaders’ Institute last summer. During the training in Washington D.C., I developed the organizational and leadership tools necessary to carry out effective change. Speakers like Noor Mir and Deepa Iyer shared fascinating insights on different aspects of islamophobia that reinforced the importance of understanding it in the context of institutionalized racism like anti-blackness and colonialism, as well as provided meaningful insights on the resilience and solidarity necessary to work in the social justice field. I appreciated the opportunity to meet activists and student leaders from other colleges and the opportunity to discuss the specificity of our experiences as South Asian Americans. I had never really had the opportunity to explore my identity as a South Asian American so extensively before.

This propelled me to begin to shape my own project that I carried out over the course of the academic year to work against biases within my college community. This spring, I worked in conjunction with other South Asia Society members at the University of Pennsylvania to plan a Symposium for Awareness of South Asian Issues (SASAI), a week-long intercollegiate conference to create awareness for social justice issues and to encourage activism in its many facets. The week’s events included a keynote address from 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri, a fundraiser for a nonprofit organization fighting malnutrition in South Asia, and a series of discussions covering social issues like islamophobia. With a mix of both fun cultural programming and deep political conversations, SASAI encouraged participation not only from a diverse range of South Asians but throughout the minority community at Penn. By the end of the week, we found it inspiring to see that our efforts to make our campus a more inclusive space for all were rewarded.

Photos from the awareness symposium Rupa helped organize in the University of Pennsylvania.

As the incredibly passionate, intelligent, and socially conscious individuals that made up my Young Leaders’ Institute cohort carry out their projects over the course of this year, I hope to see visible change within the communities that they target, just as I hope that my actions have spurred. However, our work cannot be done alone. As President Obama notably wrote in his final message to the American people as Commander in Chief, “America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’” Together, we must push forward the fight against islamophobia, for this is not a matter of one culture or religion or language or social class; it is a struggle for achieving equality for all people.

***

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

 

 

 

This Week in Hate: hate continues to rise, our communities continue to suffer

 

Earlier this year, SAALT released our post-election analysis of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric called “Communities on Fire.” During the first year following the 2016 presidential election (November 7, 2016 to November 7, 2017)—we documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities, an over 45% increase from our previous analysis in just one year. An astounding eighty-two percent of incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment. Additionally, One out of every five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump administration policy (“Muslim Ban”), or Trump campaign slogn (“Make America Great Again”) while committing the attack.

Since November 7, 2017, which marked one year since the presidential election, SAALT has documented 40 additional incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric. Three of the eight instances of xenophobic political rhetoric were anti-Muslim videos retweeted by President Trump in a single day.[1]

Fourteen of the thirty-two incidents of hate violence were verbal/written assaults, followed by twelve incidents of property damage, and six physical assaults. The cumulative post-election total is shown in Figure 1 below compared to the year leading up to the presidential election.

Emerging Trends

Property Damage

On December 1, 2017, Bernardino Bolatete was arrested for planning to “shoot up” the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida.[2] He told an undercover detective, “I just want to give these freaking people a taste of their own medicine, you know? They are the ones who are always doing these shootings, the killings.” Following this event, four more mosques were vandalized around the country. Mosques in Upper Darby, PA[3]; Clovis, NM[4], and Queens, NY[5] were vandalized with “Trump”, “Terr-” “911” and other anti-muslim phrases.

In tune with the disturbing trend of Mosque vandalism, Tahnee Gonzales and Elizabeth Dauenhauer trespassed the Islamic Community Center of Tempe, Arizona. While on Facebook lives, the women stole the masjid’s educational material and called Muslims “devil-worshippers” who are destroying “America.” The women also encouraged their children to participate in anti-Muslim behavior.

Continued Targeting of Sikh Americans

Twenty-two percent of hate incidents we documented in “Communites on Fire” targeted men who identify or are perceived as South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab. Perpetrators of hate crimes often use the religious presentation of turban-wearing Sikh men to target them. Our report found over seven incidents of hate violence aimed directly against Sikhs Americans, which reflected a significant disconnect between SAALT’s community-reported and publicly-sourced data and data reported to the FBI.

In January 2018, at least three incidents of hate violence targeted Sikh men. In Bellevue, Washington, an unknown perpetrator took a hammer from his bag and swung it against the head of Swarn Singh, causing his head to bleed.[6] At the AM/PM convenience store in Federal Way, Washington, a man threatened to kill a Sikh employee and told him to “go back where you came from.”[7] Later in the month, a Sikh Uber driver, Gurjeet Singh, picked up a couple in Moline, Illinois.[8] The male suspect put a gun to Singh’s head saying that he hated “turban people.”

Additionally, on March 3, 2018 Chad Horsely plowed his pickup truck into Best Stop Convenience Store because he thought the store owners were Muslim; they were Sikh Americans.[9]  On February 20, 2018, a Sikh gas station owner was called a “terrorist” and told that he should “go back to his own country.” When the victim tried to take photos of the vehicle license plate, Steven Laverty exited the vehicle and tried to punch the victim and took his phone.[10] On February 1, 2018, Pit Stop Gas Station in Kentucky, owned by a Sikh American, was found vandalized with swastikas, “white power,” “leave,” and “f**k you,” spray-painted on its exterior.[11]

While we recognize that many instances of hate violence or xenophobic rhetoric against our communities go unreported, we at SAALT remain committed in refusing to normalize hate. Download our report “Communites on Fire”, to read more about our recommendations on how to combat hate violence and address the underlying systems and structures that produce this violence.

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-britain-first-retweet-muslim-migrants-jayda-fransen-deputy-leader-a8082001.html

[2] https://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/local/jacksonville-officers-man-planned-mass-shooting-at-islamic-center/658434170

[3] http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/11/30/upper-darby-anti-muslim-signs/

[4] http://www.krqe.com/news/new-mexico-mosque-vandalized-by-a-real-christain/1009337281

[5] http://www.qchron.com/editions/queenswide/vandal-scrawls-graffiti-at-mosque-site/article_bd1eaf88-a7d6-5006-9244-a1175c21b3fe.html

[6] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281-509640203

[7] http://www.king5.com/article/news/crime/sikh-community-facing-rise-in-hate-crimes-seeks-help-from-cities/281-509640203

[8] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[9] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2018/03/07/an-ex-deputy-rammed-a-truck-into-a-store-because-he-thought-the-owners-were-muslim-police-say/?utm_term=.96c4bbd6f212

[10] http://www.newsindiatimes.com/sikh-gas-station-owner-in-new-jersey-becomes-victim-of-hate-crime

[11] http://www.indiawest.com/news/global_indian/indian-american-owned-gas-station-in-kentucky-vandalized-with-racist/article_ce755584-0b0b-11e8-949b-d30fdeef3b05.html

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

SAALT fulfills our mission through:

  • Advocating for just and equitable public policies at the national and local level;
  • Strengthening grassroots South Asian organizations as catalysts for community change;
  • Informing and influencing the national dialogue on trends impacting our communities.

SAALT is the only national, staffed South Asian organization that advocates around issues affecting South Asian communities through a social justice framework.

The Position:

Reporting to the Executive Director, the Director of Communications will be responsible for developing and executing the organization’s overall strategic communications strategy spanning traditional and social media. In addition, the Director will be working with the Executive Director and external development consultants to expand, and strengthen, the organization’s resources with a focus on individual donors. It is anticipated that short term the split of responsibilities will be 75% communications and 25% individual donor cultivation.

Communications-related responsibilities include:

  • Identifying opportunities to expand SAALT’s communications presence and efforts across core issue areas, South Asian American communities, and regions, including drafting press releases and media advisories; monitoring and expanding its social media presence and strategy;
  • Developing proactive relationships with mainstream and ethnic media journalists to amplify SAALT’s work and the priorities of South Asian immigrant communities;
  • Working closely with the Executive Director to write and place op-eds that examine pressing issues for South Asian communities;
  • Drafting language for emails, newsletters, and other forms of communications to reach SAALT’s diverse audiences.
  • Implementing a rapid response plan that balances SAALT’s efforts toward its core policy work with engagement on emerging issues, needs
  • Managing SAALT’s website and its content.
  • Providing event management support which involves managing all the optics for SAALT related events including vendor relationships as needed (i.e. photographers, videographers, etc.). Examples of events include the SAALT Summit, Lobby Days, Congressional Briefings, etc.

Resource development responsibilities include:

  • Strengthening SAALT’s fundraising capacity, with an emphasis on individual donor communications and cultivation;
  • Developing and executing a communications strategy focused on current and prospective individual donors;
  • Implementing an individual donor fundraising plan including donor research and crafting messages for individual donors; managing solicitation campaigns and events aimed at individuals, and coordinating SAALT’s donor cultivation efforts in close partnership with the Executive Director, external consultants and the SAALT Board of Directors;
  • Collaborating with individual donor development consultants around the country;
  • Assist Executive Director with other special projects, as necessary.

Ideal Candidate Profile:

  • Minimum of five to seven years of experience in communications, marketing, resource development or philanthropy within a social justice organization.
  • Excellent writing, analytic, and verbal/presentation skills with the ability to summarize information and connect with a variety of audiences.
  • Experience with web site design and content management.
  • Experience with various social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
  • Demonstrated self-starter with ability to identify and pursue strategic opportunities.
  • Successful track record of articulating, evaluating, measuring, and reporting goals and successes/areas of improvement.
  • Demonstrated ability and experience in being creative and self-directed while managing and prioritizing multiple tasks and roles.
  • Demonstrated ability to think strategically, have a flexible approach to work, and quickly adapt and pivot to changing needs in a dynamic non-profit environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently in a fast paced and collaborative team-based environment.
  • Exceptional email management skills and ability to thrive in a high-volume email office.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office suite and ability to quickly learn other basic programs.
  • Commitment to and passion for social justice issues and to a career in the non-profit sector.
  • Understanding of and commitment to advancing and enhancing SAALT’s mission.
    Commitment to an office culture where creativity and diversity are celebrated.
  • Sense of humor and familiarity with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases such as SALSA are a plus.
  • Travel within the United States may be required.

Compensation

SAALT will provide compensation for this position commensurate with experience. A generous vacation policy and health, dental, vision, and transportation stipend benefits will also be provided.

To Apply

Please submit a resume and cover letter to sherri@sherrirosenberg.com.  Interviews will be scheduled with selected candidates on a rolling basis. No phone calls please.

Download job description here.

 

BLOG: Why You Can’t Be Neutral About Net Neutrality – Civil Rights At Stake

Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on a plan to reverse its 2015 “Open Internet Order,” which established net neutrality, ensuring that all online content is treated equally by internet service providers. Essentially, net neutrality prevents companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T from blocking, slowing down, or speeding up online content based on the user and their ability to pay for faster or increased services. Eliminating net neutrality allows internet service providers to charge user fees at their discretion for access to certain content.

In this digital age, the internet has been a way for poor and working class families to connect with critical employment, health services, and even legal assistance. These issues impact all of us, including South Asian Americans. At SAALT, our online intake form for individuals who have experienced hate violence or discrimination is an important internet tool that allows us to direct people to legal services. Creating a “pay to play” environment threatens the ability of the poor and working class to get these important resources. Numerous studies, including a recent investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, reveal that families in poor areas are five times less likely to have access to high-speed internet than families in affluent areas. Allowing internet service providers to charge user fees further restrains access to online content and widens this disparity even further, which throttles civil rights..

Black-led media justice organizations like the Center for Media Justice and the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition have defended net neutrality for decades and were instrumental in the FCC’s 2015 decision to codify net neutrality. Their tireless work has shown the importance of an open internet for social justice organizing, healthcare access, rapid response to national disasters, and content creation for artists, just to name a few. All of these reasons should be enough for South Asian Americans to join the fight to preserve net neutrality. But digging further into recent demographic data shows exactly how many poor South Asian Americans would be hurt by the elimination of net neutrality.

According to recently released data from the Pew Research Center, there are currently 5 million South Asian Americans living in the United States. Of those, over 10% or more than half a million live in poverty. For Nepalese and Bangladeshi American communities, this figure is nearly 25%, and for Bhutanese Americans, this figure jumps to 33%. With these staggering levels of poverty and inequality in our community alone, it is critical that we understand net neutrality as more than a politically charged issue, but a fundamental civil rights issue.

We must also consider the backdrop of this poverty, inequality, and unequal access to information. It occurs in a national climate that is fueled by this Administration’s white supremacist agenda, fanning the flames of hate to heights not seen since the year after 9/11. SAALT and our allies regularly document incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities. Exactly one year since the 2016 presidential election, SAALT documented 213 incidents of hate violence alone against our communities, which is over a 60% increase from the previous year. These stories rarely make news headlines because the victims are disproportionately Muslim or perceived to be Muslim (84%) and often do not have the power of law enforcement or the bully pulpit behind them to get the recourse they deserve.

South Asian American communities and all communities of color are doubly victimized by this Administration’s agenda that both fans the flames of hate and attacks civil rights by issuing Muslim Bans, rolling out mass deportations, and eliminating net neutrality. As we established in our last report “Power, Pain, Potential,” there is a relationship between rolling back civil rights and increasing vulnerability to hate violence. South Asian Americans should be alarmed and activated to speak out now.

Resources to learn and act now

To take action on net neutrality, please see guidance from the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition.

To learn more about SAALT’s efforts, check out our 2017 report “Power, Pain, Potential” that documents incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab American communities in the year leading up to the 2016 presidential election. Stay tuned for an updated 2018 report that documents the year after the 2016 election.

If you have experienced an act of violence or discrimination, you can report it confidentially on SAALT’s intake form here or call our partners at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law at 1-844-9-NO-HATE and get resources and support.

Lakshmi Sridaran
Director, National Policy and Advocacy, SAALT

Last Chance to Force Congress to Vote On and Pass a Clean DREAM Act

Since President Trump terminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in September, you have heard about our efforts to speak truth to power. During a 2-day mobilization in Washington, D.C. last month, South Asian DREAMer, leader, and SAALT ally Chirayu Patel asked elected officials at a rally on Capitol Hill, “What is the legacy you want to leave behind?” You heard SAALT’s Executive Director, Suman Raghunathan, demand a clean DREAM Act without any compromises on increased border enforcement that will negatively impact immigrant families.

Over the last three months, DREAMERs have been deported by the thousands, with over 100 DREAMers falling out of status every day because Congress’s failure to act. Additionally, the government is terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for several countries that are still reeling from war, disease, and natural disasters. So far Nicaragua, Honduras, and Haiti have been on the chopping block. Nepal and others could be up next.

We are now at the end of the year and Congress needs to deliver.

Funding for the government expires this Friday, December 8th and Congress plans to pass a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the lights on. This is likely the last must-pass spending bill of the year, and the last chance for us to get the DREAM Act and TPS legislation through Congress this year.

Here’s what you can do today to force Congress to vote on and pass a clean DREAM Act and TPS legislation now: 

Call your elected officials and tell them why they must include the DREAM Act in the last must-pass spending bill of the year. Urge them to withhold their vote on any spending bill that does not include a clean DREAM Act. It is critical that calls are made this week before a Continuing Resolution is passed on December 8th. Click here to find your Member of Congress.

See below for a sample script!

“I am calling to urge you to sign on to the bi-partisan DREAM Act of 2017. As a South Asian American constituent, I am calling on you to support the DREAM Act now and ensure that it is included in the year-end spending bill. 

This legislation would allow our DREAMers who are as American as you or me to remain in the only country they have ever known or called home. You may be surprised to know that there are at least 450,000 undocumented Indians alone in the U.S. and there are at least 23,000 Indians and Pakistanis who are eligible to remain in the country, be shielded from deportation, and legally work through the DREAM Act.

We need you to exercise courage and leadership on behalf of our families and our communities so we can all thrive. I urge you to sign on to a clean DREAM Act with no border enforcement. Will you commit to voting NO on a year-end spending bill that does not include the DREAM Act? I am happy to share more information if useful or connect you with South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national organization representing our communities in Washington, D.C.” 

This Week In Hate: November 8- Hate Violence and Hate Rhetoric

Prepared by Radha Modi

Over the past week, six new incidents of hate violence occurred against South Asian, Muslim, and Middle Eastern communities marking the end of the first year of the Trump administration. The latest numbers in hate show over the past 12 months, there have been a total of 205 unique incidents of hate; a 58% increase from the previous year.   

There is a persistent increase in all categories of hate violence as shown in Figure 2. Verbal and written threats are by far the most common category of hate incidents with 83 occurring over the past year. Five of the six recent hate incidents involved written hate rhetoric or threats against mosques and local politicians.

For example, over the past week, numerous threats have been directed towards a mosque in Patterson, NJ and a mosque in Passaic, NJ. Further, hate-filled fliers were found in Hoboken, NJ with a picture of Ravi Bhalla, a local Sikh mayoral candidate, stating Don’t let TERRORISM take over our town! A day prior, unknown perpetrators sent mailers to Edison, NJ residents attacking local school board candidates.

 

The increase in verbal and written assaults points to a growing trend of sanctioned and normalized hate rhetoric that is xenophobic and Islamophobic by elected officials including Donald Trump. The rise in state-sponsored implicit or explicit hate rhetoric is encouraging the targeting of those perceived to be foreign and Muslim as well as other marginalized communities. For instance, after the truck attack of bikers by Sayfullo Saipov, President Trump tweeted out alarmist messages that supported his targeting of Muslim immigrants: “We must not allow ISIS to return, or enter, our country after defeating them in the Middle East and elsewhere. Enough!”, “I have just ordered Homeland Security to step up our already Extreme Vetting Program. Being politically correct is fine, but not for this!, andCHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE!”. In comparison, Trump has yet to call out the extremism of white shooters in Las Vegas, NV and Sutherland Springs, TX. These tweets, undoubtedly, are meant to encourage anti-immigrant sentiments and nativist fears in the U.S.

 

THIS WEEK IN HATE: November 1- Continued Increase in Hate Violence

Prepared by Radha Modi

As of November 1, 2017, there have been 199 documented incidents of hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern. Most notably, hate violence this year has increased by 53% compared to the previous year.

The three categories of hate violence, physical violence, verbal/written threats, and property damage, have all surpassed the totals from the year before the election as well. Verbal and written threats and hateful rhetoric are the most common type of violence with 78 documented incidents occurring since November 8, 2016. A recent incident of verbal assault occurred against a Muslim student, Fay Alwattari, at the University of Cincinnati by his music professor. The professor responded to Alwattari’s assignment with a barrage of incendiary comments such as: “The U.S. President’s first sworn duty is to protect America from enemies, and the greatest threat to our freedom is not the President, it is radical Islam. Review this list of Islamic terrorist attacks and then tell me about your hurt feelings.” University of Cincinnati is investigating the professor’s problematic behavior. In addition to verbal assaults, incidents of physical violence also continue to rise with three new incidents occurring in the past week including an attack on a Hindu Temple by an unknown suspect in Lexington, KY. Currently, the total number of physical assaults for this year are 68 incidents. Finally, property damage often consisting of vandalism comprises the third category of hate incidents with 53 unique incidents occurring since November 8, 2016.

Just this past weekend, a four foot cross wrapped in bacon was left at a mosque in Twin Falls, Idaho. Local law enforcement are investigating this incident as a hate crime.

Consistent with the numbers from last week, women who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern continue to be the most common target of hate making up 29% of hate violence in the SAALT database. Hate incidents against men, youth, and Muslim places of worship come in second with comparable percentages. Nineteen percent of hate violence is against youth, a slight increase from the previous week. On October 25th, Christopher Beckham harassed two Muslim girls wearing hijabs coming off of a school bus and threatened their father with a knife. He told them to “go back to their country” and that he would kill them when he got out of prison.

This Week In Hate: October 25 – The Vulnerability of Youth as Hate Violence Continues to Increase

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.

SAALT Slams White House’s Immigration ‘Priorities’ List as Unacceptable; Calls on Leaders to Pass Clean DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

In response to the White House’s release of a series of hard-line measures required in exchange for allowing DREAMers to remain in the United States through the proposed DREAM Act, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT, released the following statement:

“SAALT has vocally supported the passage of a clean DREAM Act since the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, 2017. In demanding a clean DREAM Act, we are stating unequivocally that any legislation must not include measures to increase border or interior enforcement, no cuts to family immigration, and no threats to legal immigration. All of these unacceptable provisions were included in the Administration’s priorities list issued this weekend.

Specifically, these ‘priorities’ include ramping up border and interior enforcement, including the construction of a wall along the Mexico border, a further crackdown on sanctuary cities, an extreme cap on refugees and asylum seekers, and a deep slash to family and legal immigration numbers.

It is a patently false construct to assume that ramping up enforcement and cutting immigration from every angle is a necessary step to ensure a legislative solution, one that is desperately needed after the inhumane rescission of the DACA program by this administration.

Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 from Pakistan are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility. These individuals and families must be protected through legislation without a barrage of unconscionable measures attached therein.

Immigrants are not a threat to our national security. Instead, as numerous studies have shown, they enhance our nation and give us the opportunity to live up to our ideals as a country. Moreover, two-thirds of Americans support the DREAM Act as well as over 50% of elected officials across party lines.

With this public mandate behind them, our leaders must stay strong and ensure that this administration’s ‘priorities’ do not serve as a starting point for any bargaining at the expense of immigrant communities. What we deserve is a clean DREAM Act rooted in dignity and inclusion for all immigrant communities. We will not settle for anything less.”

***

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

This Week In Hate – October 11: The Spatial Spread of Hate Violence Pre and Post Election

Prepared by Radha Modi

At the 11 month mark since the election of Donald Trump, there have been 184 documented incidents of hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern compared to the total of 130 from the year before the election. The rise in hate violence this year is a 42% increase from the pre-election year. Further, SAALT finds that new incidents occur at the rate of four to five a week. For example, since the last SAALT hate violence report on October 3, 2017, there have been five new reported hate incidents.

Figure 2 organizes incidents of hate violence into descriptive categories and compares totals pre and post-election. The three categories of hate violence are incidents of physical violence, incidents of verbal/written threats, and incidents of property damage. Verbal and written threats and hateful rhetoric are the most common type of violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Arab, or Middle Eastern. Since November 8, 2016, there have been 73 documented verbal and written hate incidents. While there has been a dramatic increase in hate rhetoric over the past 11 months compared to the prior year, many verbal and written incidents go unreported. Actual physical attack due to hate and bias is the second most common type of hate violence against communities represented by SAALT. There have been 63 physical assaults in the last 11 months. This total is on par with the total from the pre-election year. Finally, property damage often consisting of vandalism comprises the third category of hate incidents with 48 unique incidents occurring since November 8, 2016.

The five most recent incidents of violence occurring over the past week have targeted Muslim families, businesses, and places of worship. On October 5, Islamophobic flyers were found on the Western Washington University Campus. This is the third time in the last year that WWU has had flyers on the campus targeting communities of color. On the same day, stickers threatening Muslims were found in a government building bathroom in Portland, Oregon. A day later, on October 6, a Muslim owned store in Albuquerque, New Mexico was vandalized with the phrase “Kill em all.” Further, on October 7, a billboard for a local city council candidate in Raleigh, North Carolina,, Zainab Baloch, was vandalized with black graffiti stating “Sand N******” and “Trump.” Then two days later, on October 9, a mosque located in Farmville, Virginia had the words “F**K God & Allah” scrawled on its walls. These incidents of hate rhetoric and property damage demonstrate the spread of hate violence across the U.S. from the Southeast to the Northwest. The map below illustrates the spread of hate violence across the U.S. over the last two years using differentiating pins between incidents that occurred pre-election (orange pins) and post-election (purple pins).