Hate crimes: Who suffers?

The number of anti-religious attacks against Muslims in the US is declining according to a report issued by the FBI. The organisation claims that Jews are more likely to be attacked than Muslims in post-September 11th America.

    Muslim women have been targeted for wearing the hijab

    According to the FBI report titled: Tracking Crime Trends; New Hate Crime statistics, incidents of anti-Muslim bias have dropped from 481 recorded cases to 155 and anti-Jewish bias incidents fell from 1043  to 931.

    However, civil rights groups in the US working with Muslim communities say these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Ibrahim Hooper from the Council on Arab American  Relations based in Washington, told Aljazeera.net there was a lack of trust between many American Muslims and law enforcement agencies.

    ''In the post September 11th climate, and even before, many Muslims were unwilling to report attacks or racial incidents to the police, because they don't trust them. With George Bush's so called war on terrorism, may American Muslims are scared of being targeted wrongly by law agencies such as the FBI and so don't turn to the police for help'', said Hooper.


    CAIR'S own research department has received over 1700 complaints of racially motivated attacks and incidents against members of the Muslim community across the US.

    "Many Muslims are scared of being targeted wrongly by law enforcement agencies"

    Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR

    In the six months leading up to the September 11th attacks 366 incidents were reported to CAIR, compared to 525 incidents in the same period after the attacks.

    Florida and California recorded the highest levels of incidents in the entire country.


    Aljazeera.net contacted the FBI who admitted that the organisation had some work to do when it came to encouraging the six million Muslims living in the US to report racially motivated crimes to the police.

    ''We can always do better when it comes to building trust in vulnerable communities. We are trying to reach out to Arab and Muslim American individuals. Officers are going into these communities to build a better understanding of what we do'', said FBI spokesman Paul Bresson.

    Bresson admitted that the FBI's figures relating to race hate crimes could in reality be higher that those published in the report.

    ''The hate crime report has been compiled by data from regional law enforcement agencies, we cannot document incidents that haven't been reported to the police. Yes, I acknowledge that there are many individuals who may not wish to report race crimes to the police for a variety of reasons.''

    Aljazeera.net contacted a number of leading Jewish Human Rights organisations in the US. They were unavailable for comment.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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