Report: Communities on Fire: Confronting Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric

South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties are the tar­get of increas­ing lev­els of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric in the Unit­ed States, with record attacks since the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Trump in Novem­ber, 2016, South Asian Amer­i­cans Lead­ing Togeth­er (SAALT) said in a report released today. The uptick in anti-Mus­lim attacks runs par­al­lel to the surge in this administration’s anti-Mus­lim poli­cies and rhetoric.

The report, Com­mu­ni­ties on Fire,” doc­u­ments hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at our com­mu­ni­ties from Elec­tion Day 2016 to Elec­tion Day 2017. SAALT doc­u­ment­ed 302 inci­dents of hate vio­lence and xeno­pho­bic polit­i­cal rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, and Arab com­mu­ni­ties in the Unit­ed States, of which an astound­ing 82% were moti­vat­ed by anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment. The 302 inci­dents are a more than 45% increase from the year lead­ing up to the 2016 elec­tion cycle, lev­els not seen since the year after Sep­tem­ber 11.

SAALT’s report draws a direct line between this administration’s anti-Mus­lim agen­da and increas­ing attacks, reveal­ing that of the 213 inci­dents of hate vio­lence doc­u­ment­ed, one in five per­pe­tra­tors invoked Pres­i­dent Trump’s name, his admin­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies, or his cam­paign slo­gans dur­ing attacks.

“Our nation prides itself on the free­dom for peo­ple of all reli­gious tra­di­tions to prac­tice their faith with­out fear or intim­i­da­tion,” said Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT. “How­ev­er, through its poli­cies and rhetoric, this administration’s inces­sant demo­niza­tion of Islam has cre­at­ed an envi­ron­ment of hate and fear-mon­ger­ing for Mus­lims and those per­ceived to be Mus­lim. Dead­ly shoot­ings, torched mosques, van­dal­ized homes and busi­ness­es, and young peo­ple harassed at school have ani­mat­ed an acute­ly vio­lent post-elec­tion year. This admin­is­tra­tion must break eye con­tact with white suprema­cy if our nation is to live up to its high­est ideals of reli­gious freedom.”

The report also under­lines the way inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty informs hate — both the iden­ti­ties of vic­tims tar­get­ed and the sys­tems that crim­i­nal­ize our com­mu­ni­ties. Women who iden­ti­fy or are per­ceived as South Asian, Mus­lim, Sikh, Hin­du, Mid­dle East­ern, or Arab were the tar­gets of attack in 28% of the 213 doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents post-elec­tion. Women who wear hijab or head scarves are par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble, account­ing for 63% of the doc­u­ment­ed hate inci­dents tar­get­ing women. The report dis­cuss­es the inter­sec­tion of immi­gra­tion, racial pro­fil­ing and sur­veil­lance, and crim­i­nal jus­tice poli­cies that com­pound against our communities.

“The growth of white suprema­cist hate groups and mount­ing attacks on our com­mu­ni­ties are proof pos­i­tive that this administration’s anti-Mus­lim agen­da is not mak­ing Amer­i­ca great, it’s mak­ing Amer­i­cans afraid,” Raghu­nathan said. “The dai­ly decay of our democ­ra­cy can only be repaired by dig­ni­ty and full inclu­sion for all Amer­i­cans, regard­less of faith, race, or nation­al ori­gin. SAALT and our allies are going to go the dis­tance to see this demand realized.”

Read the full report here.