- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 26, 2002


Muslims and people who are or appear to be Middle Easterners were reported as victims of hate crimes more often last year than ever before, a consequence of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the FBI said yesterday.

The FBI's annual hate crimes report found that incidents targeting people, institutions and businesses identified with Islam increased from 28 in 2000 to 481 in 2001, a jump of 1,700 percent. Muslims had been among the least-targeted religious groups.

The increases, the FBI said, happened "presumably as a result of the heinous incidents that occurred on September 11."

The statistics did not specify how many of the 481 occurred after September 11.

Hate crimes against people because of their ethnicity or national origin those not Hispanic, not black and not Asian or American Indian rose from 354 in 2000 to 1,501 in 2001. This category includes people of Middle Eastern origin or descent, whether Muslim or not.

Since September 11, the Justice Department has prosecuted 11 civil rights cases under its "Backlash Discrimination Initiative" and investigated 403 more, with 70 others prosecuted by state and local authorities.

A man was sentenced to 51 months in prison for attempting to set fire to a Pakistani restaurant in Salt Lake City; another got two months in prison and a $5,000 fine for leaving a threatening voice-mail message Sept. 12, 2001, for James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute in Washington.

Hate crimes, defined as a crimes motivated by prejudice, are somewhat subjective, because the numbers derive from witness and victim accounts given to police rather than court convictions.

Overall accusations of crime motivated by hate rose slightly more than 20 percent from 2000 to 2001, from 8,063 to 9,730 incidents still less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the 11.8 million serious crimes reported to the FBI last year.

Part of the increase stems from a higher number of law enforcement agencies that supplied the data to the FBI in 2001.

With the increase to fewer than 500, Muslims remain far behind blacks, Jews, whites and homosexuals in the number of reported hate crimes.

There were 2,899 incidents against blacks in 2001, about the same as the previous year, and more than 1,000 against Jews, down slightly from the year before. Almost 1,400 incidents involved crimes against homosexuals, and whites were targeted in 891 cases, the FBI said.

Slightly more than 12,000 victims of all hate crimes were reported in 2001, with 46 percent of them targeted because of their race. Last year's total was about 9,900 hate crime victims.

There were 10 murders, four rapes, 2,736 assaults and 3,563 cases of intimidation motivated by hate in 2001. There were more than 3,600 property crimes, all but a few involving vandalism or property destruction.

Most incidents against Muslims and people who are or were believed to have been of Middle Eastern ethnicity involved assaults and intimidation, but three cases of murder or manslaughter and 35 cases of arson were reported.

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