Hate Crimes Against Muslims Soar Nationwide

Activists at a vigil for the victims of the Orlando gay nightclub terror attack.
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Alisdare Hickson

Hate crimes against Muslims skyrocketed 67 percent last year over the year prior, the largest increase against a single minority group in America, according to statistics released last month by the FBI.

The increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes—from 154 in 2014 to 257 last year—represents the largest number of such incidents since the year after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the stats show. The FBI release its latest annual report on bias crimes nationwide a week after Election Day, when anecdotal reports suggested hate crimes against Muslims are surging still.

“The year 2015 saw a great deal of news about Islamist attacks in Europe and in the United States, and the exploitation of these attacks by right-wing media and political figures very likely fueled anti-Muslim hatred,” said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC), which tracks hate groups and bias crimes.

Muslims weren’t alone in suffering an increase in victimization. Anti-LGBT hate crimes rose 5 percent, bias crimes against blacks were up 8 percent and anti-Jewish incidents spiked 9 percent. Hate crimes against Jews made up the largest number of such reports—half the 1,354 religious-related bias offenses reported to the FBI.

Among the specific anti-Muslim hate crimes that the FBI cited in its report was a case in which a Florida man pleaded guilty to threatening to firebomb a pair of mosques and gun down their congregants.

The SPLC notes that the FBI’s stats are likely lower than the actual number when factoring in that not all law enforcement agencies share their hate crimes data and not all victims report incidents they’ve endured.

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