A hate crime or bias motivated crime occurs when the perpetrator of the crime intentionally selects the victim because of his or her membership in a certain group.
According to The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law, 12 in 100,000 Muslims were reported as being the victim of hate crimes. It’s important to note that 15 in 100,000 Jews were reported being the victims of hate crimes.
The significant difference comes in the handling of these crimes. Critical comments that associate anyone with being Jewish are simply forbidden. While a criminal like Bernie Madoff was referred to as Jewish, it was usually with a rejection of his Jewishness.
Forums recorded remarks like “Madoff is an embarrassment to our community. How does one get so greedy? It reinforces all the stereotypes about Jews. Very sad indeed.”
When a Muslim does something wrong, he’s portrayed as a member of an extremist religion. Popular expressions refer to a Muslim as a jihadist. Jihad is simply the process of “exerting the best efforts,” involving some form of “struggle” and “resistance”, to achieve a particular goal.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, reported anti-Islamic remarks by a range of American and Canadian public figures, “from congressional candidates to syndicated columnists. [They] have portrayed Islam as ‘murderous’ and Palestinians as ‘lower than pond scum’ or ‘ragheads’ ‘sh*t …turds.’ ”
After 9/11, on Sept 17, 2001, CNN reported that “hate crimes against Muslims and southeast Asians have risen exponentially across the U.S. in the wake of Tuesday’s terror attacks.”
CAIR says it received more than 300 reports of harassment and abuse from Tuesday through Thursday night; nearly half the number it received all last year. In Chicago, a man (who wasn’t Muslim) was beaten for being Muslim by someone who claimed he was “helping the fight against terrorism”.
In March 2009, Daniel Pipes updated an article he wrote in 2004, attempting to debunk the existence of hate crimes against Muslims in the US. Pipes is one of the worst of the breed of media Islamophobes.
The Guardian UK reports on a study written by a former Scotland Yard counter-terrorism officer Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer and former special branch detective Dr Robert Lambert, now in the University of Exeter’s European Muslim research centre.
“The report provides prima facie and empirical evidence to demonstrate that assailants of Muslims are invariably motivated by a negative view of Muslims they have acquired from either mainstream or extremist nationalist reports or commentaries in the media.”
An apt description of the effects of the kind of bilge put out by extremist provokers of hate crimes like Daniel Pipes. Islamophobes, like Pipes, who preach in public forums have been free to do what is forbidden when referring to Jews.
Very simply, Islamophobia is the fear or hatred of Islam or Muslims. According to a 2009 Washington Post — ABC news statistics, almost 48 percent (a shift from 24 percent in 2002) of Americans have unfavourable attitudes towards Muslims.
As freelance writer Dina Malki has pointed out, “right-wing media commentators use terms like ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘violent Islam’ to portray Islam as a barbaric, irrational, primitive and sexist religion.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has described Islamophobia as a term that “refers to unfounded fear of and hostility towards Islam. Such fear and hostility leads to discriminations against Muslims, exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political or social process, stereotyping, the presumption of guilt by association, and finally hate crimes.”
Thus, the connection between Islamophobia and hate crimes still being committed against Muslims suggests the dire need of a campaign against Islamophobes.
Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see http://www.pballes.com.