A substantial increase in hate crimes against people of South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab descent has been seen in the United States since Donald Trump became the country’s president, according to a report released by South Asian Americans Living Together (SAALT), a non profit organization, on Feb. 2.
The report recorded 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic rhetoric against these communities between Nov. 8, 2016 and Nov. 7, 2017, marking a 45 per cent increase from the previous year. The SAALT report added this has not been since the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.
SAALT further breaks the incidents of violence down into 213 incidents of hate violence and 89 incidents of xenophobic rhetoric. Of these, 82 per cent of the incidents, numbering to 248, were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.
Incidents of hate violence are classified into three major categories: physical assaults (beatings, violent removal of religious clothing and the use of a weapon); verbal or written assaults (threats based on racial and religious appearance) and property damage (vandalism, arson and other forms of destruction).
The report also pointed out that one in five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump administration policy or a campaign slogan. The President’s anti-Muslim agenda has created an environment for these incidents, it added.
The Trump administration’s demonization of Muslim community through its policies and rhetoric, has created an environment of hate for the community, SAALT executive director Suman Raghunathan said. “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,” Raghunathan said.
While calling white supremacy a jump-off point, SAALT also talks about immigration, racial profiling, surveillance, and criminal justice policies that work against these 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 report cited that South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab women — those who identify as such or those who were perceived as such — were the targets of attack in 28 per cent of the 213 hate violence incidents. After women were men, youth and Muslim places of worship that were targeted. Hijab or head scarf-wearing women were particularly vulnerable, making for 63 per cent of the documented hate incidents which targeted women.
The reports talk about how the openly biased policies of Trump administration are not helping matters. In the case of Srinivas Kuchibhotla’s killing, the President took six days to condemn the murder. In case of Charlottesville violence, his response was criticized as being inadequate.
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