Sudden increase in hate crimes against South Asians a result of Trump’s rhetoric: SAALT

Hand writing stop hate crime on grey background

302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric between Nov. 2016 and Nov. 2017.

Hate crimes targeting South Asian communities such as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, and Middle Eastern and Arab communities have surged since the Trump administration took charge, according to a report published by the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The report, titled “Communities on Fire: Confronting Hate Violence and Xenophobic Political Rhetoric,” notes that South Asian and Middle Eastern communities are the target of increasing levels of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric in the United States, with record attacks since the election of President Trump in November 2016.

It also relates the rise in anti-Muslim attacks in the US to the Trump administration’s anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric.

Of the 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017 that SAALT documented, “an astounding 82% were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.”

“The 302 incidents are a more than 45% increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after September 11,” notes the report. SAALT’s 2017 report had documented 207 incidents of hate violence targeting South Asian and Arab communities.

According to the report, Trump’s administration has built upon the already surging hate violence that existed in the country. It has found a strong connection between rising hate crimes and Trump’s campaign and policies.

“One in five perpetrators of hate violence incidents referenced President Trump, a Trump policy, or a Trump campaign slogan, underlining a strong link between President Trump’s anti-Muslim agenda and hate violence post-election,” says the report.

“Our nation prides itself on the freedom for people of all religious traditions to practice their faith without fear or intimidation,” said Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “However, through its policies and rhetoric, this administration’s incessant demonization of Islam has created an environment of hate and fear-mongering for Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim. Deadly shootings, torched mosques, vandalized homes and businesses, and young people harassed at school have animated an acutely violent post-election year. This administration must break eye contact with white supremacy if our nation is to live up to its highest ideals of religious freedom.”

Though there is a sudden jump in anti-Muslim policies and hate violence, the decades-long history of political rhetoric and policies steeped in racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia have added to the increase of hate related crimes against South Asians, says the report.

Women who identify as South Asians or who wear hijab or headscarves are also vulnerable to attacks. Some 28% of the 213 documented hate incidents post-election 28% of the 213 documented hate incidents post-election was against women who identify or are perceived as South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab. In 63% of the incidents, women wearing hijab were at the receiving end of the crime.

“The growth of white supremacist hate groups and mounting attacks on our communities are proof positive that this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda is not making America great, it’s making Americans afraid,” Raghunathan said.

“The daily decay of our democracy can only be repaired by dignity and full inclusion for all Americans, regardless of faith, race, or national origin. SAALT and our allies are going to go the distance to see this demand realized,” she added.

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