Ahead of Inauguration, SAALT’s New Report Exposes Alarming Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric During Elections



On Jan­u­ary 11, 2017, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT), a lead­ing nation­al South Asian Amer­i­can advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tion, released "Power, Pain, Potential," the first comprehensive report doc­u­ment­ing hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Arab, Sikh, Hin­du, and Mid­dle East­ern Amer­i­cans dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle.  This report exam­ines the dra­mat­ic demo­graph­ic growth of South Asians across the Unit­ed States, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the South, and reveals how increas­es in pop­u­la­tion are met with increas­es in intol­er­ance dur­ing the most divi­sive Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in mod­ern Amer­i­can his­to­ry.

“The unprece­dent­ed vio­lence we saw fol­low­ing the Sep­tem­ber 11 attacks has returned, elec­tri­fied by a hos­tile 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” stat­ed Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.  “With over 4.3 mil­lion South Asians in the US, pol­i­cy­mak­ers must make it a first pri­or­i­ty to address and dis­man­tle the para­dox of our com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing at the inter­sec­tion of growth and hate.”

From Novem­ber 15, 2015 to Novem­ber 15, 2016 (between the Paris attacks and the week after the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions), SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 207 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties in an online pub­lic data­base, a 34% increase in less than a third of the time cov­ered in our 2011–2014 report, "Under Suspicion, Under Attack."

This dis­turb­ing data breaks down to 140 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and 67 instances of xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion cycle.  An astound­ing 95% of inci­dents were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment.  SAALT’s find­ings are con­sis­tent with the FBI’s 2015 hate crimes sta­tis­tics, which revealed a 67% increase in hate crimes against Mus­lims from the pre­vi­ous year. Notably, President-elect Trump was responsible for one in five (21%) xenophobic political statements SAALT documented.

Against the back­drop of this hos­til­i­ty and the resur­gence of white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions nation­wide, South Asian Amer­i­cans are the most rapid­ly grow­ing demo­graph­ic group in the nation.  The largest pop­u­la­tion growth occurred in the South, where 30% of South Asians cur­rent­ly reside: an increase from half a mil­lion to one mil­lion since 2000.  Thir­ty per­cent of the hate vio­lence inci­dents we cat­a­logued occurred in the South.

This report also offers pol­i­cy­mak­ers cru­cial and com­pre­hen­sive rec­om­men­da­tions to address hate crimes under­re­port­ing, improve rela­tions between our com­mu­ni­ties and law enforce­ment, dis­man­tle poli­cies that pro­mote racial pro­fil­ing and sur­veil­lance, and shift immi­gra­tion poli­cies to respect and meet our com­mu­ni­ties’ needs.  The new admin­is­tra­tion must make these rec­om­men­da­tions a first pri­or­i­ty in order to heal our deeply divid­ed coun­try.  Any­thing less will make the tran­si­tion of pow­er on Jan­u­ary 20 sim­ply a tran­si­tion of pain for our com­mu­ni­ties.

Con­tact: Vivek Trive­di; vivek@saalt.org for more infor­ma­tion.