- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 24, 2006

“Hate crimes” reported by Muslims have decreased significantly since the year of the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to the FBI, and harassment against Jews outnumber incidents against all other religious and ethnic groups.

Hate crimes and harassment against Jews far outnumber those against any other religion, including Muslims, according to new hate-crime statistics reported from 2000 through 2005.

Nearly 1,700 hate crimes against Jews were reported in 2000 and 2,118 in 2001, a significant spike that was similarly reflected in crimes reported against Muslims. Thirty-six hate crimes against Muslims were reported in 2000 and more than 500 in 2001 — most of them after the Islamist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in which more than 3,000 Americans, including some Muslims, died.

The numbers dropped to 977 hate crimes against Jews and 151 hate crimes against Muslims in 2005, according to the most recent FBI numbers.

The preponderance of harassment of Jews doesn’t surprise Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix physician and chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, who says anti-Semitism “has had hundreds of years of roots” in European countries and over the past century in the U.S. He predicts that “over the next 100 years, we will see the establishment of Islamophobia taking root. It is still a relatively new phenomenon, but at an accelerated fashion.”

Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, says the FBI figures are encouraging, “[but] we remain concerned because too many people continue to act out their anti-Jewish hatred.”

“We have always said that America is different, that the Jewish communities here are fortunate to be largely immune from the kind of anti-Semitic violence experienced by some European Jewish communities,” he said.

The FBI defines a hate crime as “a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.”

The crimes reported to the FBI include verbal intimidation, assault, burglary and arson. A handful of atheists report abuse for their beliefs, but Christians make up the remaining 20 percent of reported crimes. Nine churches in rural Alabama were torched this year by college students, who pleaded guilty to arson on Dec. 20.

In the wake of the removal of a group of Muslim imams from an airliner after several passengers and crew said the clerics were trying to intimidate them with shouted Islamist slogans, the Council on American-Islamic Relations told Muslims embarking on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in late December to be aware of their civil and legal rights and to report incidents of perceived discrimination.

Dr. Jasser says that a lack of understanding about Islam is not to blame for civil rights violations or hate crimes. “The world is at war with radical Islam, and America is not serious about getting Muslims on board and leading the struggle, and until we change that tide, Islamophobia will increase,” he says. “How many Muslims have declared their desire to enlist in the war in Iraq? We have not seen a movement, yetevery day we hear about American soldiers dying there. Now up to 3,000 of our fellow citizens have died in Iraq. If the Muslim community was part of that, then the perception would be different.”

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