An Inclusive Litany

11/25/02

A report by Human Rights Watch documents the "severe wave of backlash violence" directed against Muslims and those of Middle Eastern descent in the wake of the September 11 attacks. The Associated Press reported that "Incidents targeting Muslims, previously the least common involving religious bias, increased from just 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001—a jump of 1,600 percent," or roughly half the reported number of hate crimes committed against Jews. However, the AP also notes that "the 2001 hate crimes report was drawn from 11,987 law enforcement agencies around the country, up from 1,160 agencies in 2000"—a similar jump of 933 percent.

Of these, the vast majority of incidents at issue were non-violent. The report instead focuses on seven murders, three of which represent authentic examples of hate crimes motivated by anti-Muslim animus, even though none of the victims happened to be Muslim. Three of the others involved no real evidence of ethnic motivation. And in one case, a Yemeni man was shot to death while in bed with the jealous gunman's ex-girlfriend.

[Ed.: The report did not include the case of Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence at UCLA who has regularly received telephone and e-mail threats ever since September 11, has had his car windows smashed, and has worried about mysterious vans parked on his street that race away before the police arrive. In fact, the threats came not from angry white males, but from fellow Muslims who perceived him as too critical of religious extremists.]

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