How Americans Hate: 8-fold increase in Islamophobic Crime since 2000

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Congress passed the Hate Crime Statistics Act in 1990, and since then the FBI has been issuing annual reports on crimes of bias or hate crimes.

I thought it might be useful to compare the year 2000, Bill Clinton’s last in office, with 2013 and with 2014, the last two for which statistics are available, to see how the nation has changed. Unsurprisingly, there has been an eight-fold increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes during these 14 years.

There are lots of caveats here. The FBI depends on local police departments to report hate crimes, who in turn depend on victims to report them in the bulk of cases. The whole country is not even covered.

Muslim-Americans are disproportionately first- and second-generation immigrants and while they are typically middle or upper middle class, they often came from countries where the police are not your friends, and they may be hesitant to report hate crimes against them.

Then, there aren’t that many hate crimes reported. In 2000 there were 9,924 victims and in 2014 that number had fallen to only 6,727 victims.

Also, hate crimes based on religion are a small proportion of the whole. In 2014 nearly half (47%) of hate crimes in the US were based on race, and African-Americans are the majority (62.7%) of the victims of those crimes. That is, 29% of all hate crimes are directed against African-Americans, who are 12% of the population nationally.

It would be interesting to know if any anti-Muslim hate crimes take the form primarily of racial hatred against Arabs, South Asians, African-American Muslims or white Muslims (viewed as quislings by racists?). But Arabs are not a category and I presume are being counted as white (22% of hate crimes are directed against this group), and South Asians in the US are counted as Asians (6.2% of hate crimes are directed at them and they are 5% of the population nationally).

h/t FBI

Only 18.6% of hate crimes in 2014 were based on religion. This proportion has been stable since 2000, when 18.6% of hate crimes were based on religion.


Religious Hate Crimes by targeted community in 2014.

So here’s the thing. Both in 2000 and in 2014, the most frequent victims of religious hate crimes were Jews. In 2000 hatred for them accounted for 75% of incidents. In 2013, 60 percent of religious hate crimes were motivated by anti-Jewish bias. In 2014, they accounted for 56.8 percent of the victims of religious hate crimes.

What we can see is a welcome decline in the proportion of hate crimes directed against Jews, though of course it is way too high given that they are less than two percent of the American population.

In 2000, both anti-Catholic and anti-Protestant hate crimes ran at about 3.8 percent of religious crimes of bias, respectively.

But in 2000, anti-Muslim hate crimes came in at only 1.9% of this category.

In 2013, the percentage of hate crimes directed at Catholics was up to 6%, that is, they increased by about a third, and this was true in 2014, as well.

(It is possible that the anti-Catholic animus is a proxy for anti-Latino feeling. But it is worth mentioning that hate crimes against Latinos are put in the category of “ethnic” rather than “racial” hate crimes, and that the Latino share of victimization by such crimes fell from 61% to 47% between 2000 and 2014.)

The percentage accounted for by anti-Protestant feeling remained the same in 2013, at about 3.8 percent, but in 2014 it actually fell, to 2.5 percent.

So the other big change besides the 25% decline in Antisemitic incidents was a vast increase in the proportion of hate crimes that are directed at Muslims. In 2013, it was 13.7%. In 2014 it jumped again, to 16.1%. That is, the proportion of religious crimes of bias that are directed at Muslims has increased by a factor of 8 since 2000.

Note that according to most social science surveys, there are about half as many American Muslims as American Jews. Muslims constitute roughly 1% of the US population but about 3% of all hate crimes target them.

We can see in these statistics some of the reason for which the most pond-scum-ish of the GOP candidates are running on anti-Muslim hatred. Their polling is telling them about this big increase in Islamophobia that is visible in the hate crime statistics. And rather than running away from the sort of bigots who commit these hate crimes, they are eagerly courting their votes.

The fear that all right-thinking Americans now have is that the flame-throwing rhetoric of the GOP demagogues will put up the number of hate crimes nationally in 2016 and after, and that the proportion that target Muslims and Latinos will expand yet again. We should never forget that hate is not just an emotion displayed by an ugly set of the mouth at a rally; it turns into broken noses and broken ribs and burned-down buildings. Those are the genies the hate-mongerers are summoning for us.

6 Responses

  1. We have a similar law over here in the UK which is carried to extreme lengths. For example; if a person overhears a conversation which is less than complimentary about some ethnic race, religion or any other kind of life style, this individual can call the police and have the conversationalist arrested. The person making the complaint does not have to be in any way connected to the overheard conversation or be of an ethnic race themselves. Quite simply, anyone who overhears something in other people’s private conversation which they claim offends their sensibilities, can declare an offence committed. If you think this is bordering on the bizarre, there is a law in Germany (recently used against a well know German comedian), which prohibits anyone from criticising any foreign head of state under pain of five years in prison. So if member of the public in Germany made some kind of derogatory remark about say, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, they could end up in prison!! Its a mad world out there.

  2. Potential rising leadership gaining prominence based on pure h8 and divisiveness have a dismal and often catastrophic effect on their adherents.

  3. Perhaps Jewish people are more likely to report hate crimes than other groups. They appear to have much stronger support structures they can lean upon.

    Reporting a crime against ones person (as opposed to property crimes) can be just as traumatic for the victim as the crime itself – just ask the millions of women who don’t report rape and domestic violence crimes.

  4. What percentage of hate crimes of all types are committed by right wingers? What percentage of these right wingers are supporters of the Republican party? Anti- black, antisemitic, anti- Muslim, anti- Latino: all the hate seems to originate in the same group. The primitive demand for America to kick the whole world’s asses is always present in this group and is often used by the warmongers. The anger and menace in evidence at Trump rallies comes from a different place psychically than the anti- Wall Street outrage at a Sanders rally. The resort to guns as a response to feeling threatened and the feeling threatened as a response to evolving conditions in the society: why these responses rather than other possible ones? The social intellect of this group seems to be in a pathological state, and the Republican party is not helping, but is exploiting the sentiment as usual in their ongoing scam of those very people, whose support for them is thus based on deception. If the Republicans were to win with this support, these supporters would no doubt feel better, but there would be no tangible benefits forthcoming; why should there be? The party would not have gained power on the basis of a commitment to provide tangible benefits to the ordinary people. It can’t be healthy to be so dominated by these negative emotions all the time.

  5. A recent lawsuit against the Muslim-majority City of Hamtramck alleges that the Arab-American community’s businesses were targeted for investigation by law enforcement in a offensively discriminatory manner and with use of racial slurs:

    link to

Comments are closed.