Hate crimes against American Muslims have reached an unprecedented high within the past year. On Monday, the FBI’s annual report on national hate crimes said that targeting Muslims increased by 67 percent in 2015. Anti-Muslim violence in the United States is at its worst since 9/11, the report stated.
“Around November 2014 is when the latest wave of anti-Muslim hate crimes seemed to have started,” Arsalan Bukhari, president of CAIR-WA (Council on Islamic Relations-Washington), said. There were 154 crimes in 2014, compared to 257 in 2015. Throughout 2015, CAIR offices nationwide received, on average, at least one to two daily reports of hate crimes targeting an American Muslim or someone perceived to be Muslim.
Enter Trump, whose anti-Muslim rhetoric ramped up throughout the course of his campaign. Trump’s continuous anti-Muslim rhetoric during his campaign was not just towards American Muslims, but also every Muslim person outside the U.S. He referred to the expanded admittance of refugees from Syria as potentially “a better, bigger version of the legendary Trojan Horse.”
“Trump made Islamophobic rhetoric, amongst many other types of hate speech, acceptable in political discourse,” Imam Omar Suleiman, president of Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, said. “Now he’s making Islamophobic hate mongers acceptable in government.”
Many are outraged that several of Trump’s cabinet appointees have a rooted history of anti-Muslim speech.
Trump’s new immigration adviser, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, helped write a book on creating a federal Muslim registry for national security.
In an interview with Reuters this week, Kobach said Trump’s immigrant transition team proposed drafting executive actions to reinstate a post-9/11 era program that registered immigrants and visitors from countries designated as havens for extremist activity. This move would target immigrants from predominantly Muslim-populated countries.
Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of alt-right Breitbart, was chosen this week as Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. Bannon has a history of claiming anti-Muslim extremists as being experts on Islam. Most notably, Pamela Geller, who Bannon calls “one of the top world experts in radical Islam and Shariah law and Islamic supremacism.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, calls Geller “probably the best known — and the most unhinged — anti-Muslim ideologue in the United States. She is the movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead and a woman who is relentlessly shrill and coarse in her denunciations of Islam.”
Frank Gaffney, who’s the founder of the Center for Security Policy, an anti-Muslim think-tank, has an even bigger role on the transition team since Trump’s two national security advisers were fired over the weekend.
The SPLC calls him “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.”
Following the news of Gaffney’s appointment to Trump’s team, CAIR issued a statement urging Trump to drop the “anti-Islam conspiracy theorist.”
President-elect Trump has yet to directly speak about the rising hate crimes against Muslims. However, he did address the alarming rise of xenophobic hate during an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired on Sunday. He told his supporters to “Stop it.”
“We will not let this government impede on any minority group, Muslim or otherwise. We will stand up to it as one,” Imam Suleiman said. “We shouldn’t be afraid, but we should be prepared.”
Bukhari, the CAIR-WA president, who has spent years educating the public on ways to decrease anti- Muslim hate, urges American Muslims to get behind the media and make their voices heard. He hopes that both Muslims and allies will work “harder than ever before to change millions of hearts.”