Research Report

Archived: Post 9/11 Hate Crime Trends: Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews in the U.S. (2005)




CAIR Report 2005

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is an American Muslim civil rights organization. Their annual report on anti-Muslim incidents is the most thorough of its kind. According to the most recent report released in May 2005 entitled "Unequal Protection: The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States," anti-Muslim hate crimes rose by more than 50 percent between 2003 to 2004; while 93 anti-Muslim hate crimes were recorded in 2003, 141 hate crimes were recorded in 2004. The study cites 1,552 cases of anti-Muslim occurrences including violence, discrimination, and harassment. Approximately 225 of these cases involved religious discrimination, such as a city's opposition to a mosque. 196 cases involved discrimination in the workplace and 190 cases cited verbal harassment. The report hypothesizes that the increase in anti-Muslim sentiment can be attributed to websites and radio programs whose content propagates feelings of hate.

State Demographics

According to the CAIR report, nearly 80% of anti-Muslim crime was committed in only 10 states. 20% of crimes were committed in California, followed by New York (10%), Arizona (9%), Virginia (7%), Texas (7%), Florida (7%), Ohio (5%), Maryland (5%), New Jersey (5%), and Illinois (3%). Incidents occurring in California in 2004 included the assault of a Portuguese man in San Diego who was mistaken for being of Middle Eastern descent. A group of white men yelled racial slurs at him and told him to "go back to Iraq." On December 30, 2004, also in California, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab was pushing her baby in a stroller when a man in a truck almost ran them over near a gas station. When the woman cried, "You almost killed my baby!," the man responded, "It wouldn't have been a big loss."

Increase of Police Discrimination

One of the most salient increases from 2003 to 2004 is that of discrimination by police such as unwarranted arrests and searches. These comprised nearly a quarter of CAIR cases in 2004, while in 2003 they comprised only 7% of incidents. One example of unreasonable arrest occurred on June 10th, 2004 in Colorado where a Muslim family's house was raided by the IRS and armed FBI agents who drew their guns. The family was told that an IRS investigation was being conducted and the agents proceeded to ask them questions such as "Are you Shiite or Sunni?" and questions about "Hamas, Hezbollah, and suicide bombings." They were also asked "If the US went to war with Iran, which side would you be on?" The agents took with them all items in the house containing non-English writing, including the daughter's diary. Another example of law-enforcement abuse occurred on October 11, 2004 in Minneapolis where a female hijab-wearing Muslim student of Somali background was pulled over by police. The policemen searched her car and threw her belongings onto the street, including her Islamic books and the Qur'an. They then left her to pick them up by herself.

Hate Crimes on Campuses

Anti-Muslim hate crimes have been especially visible on the campuses of universities and colleges nationwide since 9/11. In the Spring of 2003, anti-Muslim rants were shouted towards student Christine Lo's dorm room at Yale. Lo had hung an upside-down American flag outside of her window to protest the war in Iraq. The ranting students also attempted to pry open her door with a plank of wood. After they left, Lo found a note prompting Americans to kill Muslims and ''launch so many missiles their mothers don't produce healthy offspring.'' Yale administrator Raphael Soifer also became the target of discrimination when a Yale student spit at him in a dining hall and exclaimed ''I hope you and your families die! Why don't you go live in Iraq." Similar threats have been found at institutions such as San Jose State University (California) in 2003, where graffiti in the bathroom claimed, ''Muslims will be shot on SJSU campus on March 10!'' At the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center, moreover, Muslim prayer rugs were discovered soaked in pig's blood.

Status Quo

The trends indicated by the CAIR report, moreover, continue to hold true in 2005. As recently as June 2005, a Baltimore mosque was vandalized and the incident is suspected to be bias-related. Red paint was splashed on the mosque's sign, walls and fence. As Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King noted in his July 2, 2005 article entitled "Let's Proudly Hail the Rights of All," anti-Muslim sentiments are as prevalent as ever, even comparable to sentiments held by many of Japanese Americans during World War II. In June 2005 alone, King notes, a man was sentenced for firebombing an El Paso mosque, a Qur'an was desecrated with human waste in Nashville, a mosque was burned in California, a bag of burned Qur'ans was left outside an Islamic center in Virginia, and an Islamic school in Miami was vandalized for the third time. Political freedom, he muses, is perhaps not extended to Muslim Americans.



Challenges & Accomplishments for the Sikh Community

Sikhism is the world's fifth largest religion, boasting nearly 20 million adherents. The religion preaches devotion to God and equality among all people. Ironically, Sikhs have been the victims of a significant amount of hate crimes. In the past three years alone, the Sikh Coalition, which aims to promote Sikh identity and interpret the religion for the general public, helped with more than 62 cases of hate crimes, 27 cases of racial profiling, 22 incidents of employment discrimination, and 17 Sikhs facing prosecution for carrying the Kirpan (sword used for ceremonial occasions). In 2003, the Sikh Coalition reflected upon accomplishments for Sikhs in North America. Achievements mentioned included that of a young Sikh allowed to eat dinner in a restaurant wearing his turban and thousands of police officers undergoing training to understand and appreciate the Sikh faith. A more recent accomplishment was the May 2004 court order to reinstate a Sikh police officer, Jasjit Singh Jaggi, who had opted to resign from his job in 2002 after being ordered by supervisors to shave his beard and abandon his religious turban.

Personal Attacks & the Saroop

Many hate crimes committed against Sikhs fall under the category of "personal attacks," or assault. Vandalism and arson are also prevalent. It is widely hypothesized that Sikhs are targeted because of their turbans (known as "saroops"), an icon associated with terrorism in the minds of many. Such ignorance has resulted in the "ethnic assault" of a Sikh student at the University of North Carolina by three local teenagers who eventually received jail sentences. Recorded incidents of assault on Sikhs have also taken place in New York City, Oregon, Washington D.C., Florida and California. In July of 2004, the severe beating of Rajinder Singh Khalsa outside of a New York City restaurant received wide coverage. Khalsa is president of an organization intended to promote awareness of the Sikh faith and wears the traditional beard and saroop. He suffered a broken nose from the attack, among other injuries. Other cases occurring over the past four years include the smashing of a Sikh man's convenient store windows and the theft of an American flag from a Sikh-owned gas station. Days after the 9/11 attacks, Sikh gasoline station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot by Frank Roque in Mesa, Arizona. Rogue was eventually sentenced to death for the murder.

Turban Controversy with the MTA

Argument on whether or not Sikhs should be allowed to wear the saroop (turban) has been heated in New York. On June 7, 2004, the Daily Borough News reported that Sikh drivers for a limousine company in Long Island were rallying over their right to wear their turbans. On January 6, 2005, Newsday reported that a Sikh subway operator named Kevin Harrington got into an argument with his supervisor over the uniform requirement that forced him to wear an MTA patch on his turban. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Harrington, 53, of the Bronx, became a Sikh over 25 years ago, and believes that the patch violates his religious rights. The order to wear the patch seemed to many especially unjustified since other caps provided by the MTA to workers did not bear the logo. After the confrontation, Harrington was reassigned to work in the MTA yard where he would be out of public view. Most recently, on July 18, 2005, five New York Sikh station agents filed discrimination charges against the MTA. They cited that the post 9/11 policy requiring Sikhs to brand their turbans with the MTA logo is an act of religious discrimination.


_________ On November 27, 2003 Metro West reported that an Ashland, Massachusetts teenager defaced a Hindu temple in Ashland on Halloween. Anthony Picciolo, 17, was convicted of spray painting hate messages. Police said Piccioli spray painted 'Sand N------ beware,' and 'head,' on a rock near the Hindu temple. Police said 'head' was short for 'towel head.' On June 25, 2003 in Boston, an Indian graduate student named Saurabh Bhalerao, who was working part time as a pizza deliveryman, was the target of deplorable abuse. He was robbed, beaten, burned with cigarettes, stuffed in a trunk and stabbed twice before finally being dumped along a road. Police suspect that the attackers mistook the Hindu man for a Muslim. As they were beating him, the attackers supposedly taunted, "go back to Iraq."



ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents [Released] 2004, Vandalism Prevalent

.............................................................................................................. Vandalism remains a common form of anti-Semitic discrimination, with swastikas and smashed menorahs being found in the United States from Massachusetts to California. The Anti-Defamation League, a social advocacy organization that is particularly vocal in issues of anti-Semitism, conducted their annual "ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents" in 2004. The audit reported over 1,500 incidents across the US. This number was disappointingly similar to the 1,559 incidents reported in 2002. Anti-Semitic incidents mentioned in the report include verbal and physical assault, harassment, vandalism, and property damage among other acts. The ADL cites the burning of a Holocaust museum in Indiana and the attempt to firebomb a synagogue in Allentown, Pennsylvania, as some of the most vicious crimes of 2002. Another case referenced in the ADL report involves spray-painted swastikas and epithets on the walls and driveway of a Jewish community center near Phoenix, Arizona. A congregant's car parked outside the center was also vandalized. Accounts of anti-Semitic vandalism were actually at an all-time low in 2002, but increased considerably in 2003. While 531 acts were reported in 2002, 628 acts were reported in 2003 as community centers, synagogues and private property became targets. Indeed, 40% of the hate crimes recorded by the ADL in 2003 were acts of vandalism. On a more hopeful note, 929 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment were reported in 2003, which is a decline from the 1,028 incidents of harassment reported in 2002.

State Demographics

The states where frequent hate crimes against Jews have been committed are New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida, and Connecticut. Significant fluctuation in figures was seen in Connecticut, where the number of hate crimes rose from 41 in 2002 to 70 in 2003. The figures also increased in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Alternatively, improvement was seen in California and Massachusetts where figures decreased significantly. Among all of these states, only New York and New Jersey saw more acts of vandalism than harassment. In July 2003, a bullet was shot through the front door of a synagogue in Wildwood, New Jersey. In August 2003, in Long Island, New York, pornographic images and the words "Hail Hitler, F--- the Jews" were drawn on the property of a Jewish center. However, a decrease in anti-Semitic crimes on college campuses between 2002 and 2003 is observed. 68 such incidents were reported in 2003 compared to the figure of 106 in 2002. This change was noteworthy as it indicated the reversal of a three-year trend of anti-Semitic hate crimes on campuses. Of these 68 acts recorded in 2003, there were 40 acts of harassment and 28 acts of vandalism. The ADL speculates that many of the hate crimes committed in 2002 were the products of anti-Israel demonstrations, and while this type of activism continued in 2003, there were less anti-Semitic references.

ADL Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents [Released] 2005, Hate Crimes Rise

..................................................................................................................... The ADL's most recent "Annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents" released in April 2005 reported 1,821 anti-Semitic incidents committed in 2004. This is a 17% increase from the 1,557 incidents reported in 2003. An increase in neo-Nazi activity is cited as a major cause for the influx. Anti-Semitic harassment at American schools also increased between 2003 and 2004. Some of the more notable incidents from 2004 include the arson of the entrance to a Jewish cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts in February, swastikas and the slur "Death to Jews" scribbled on a Houston synagogue in December, and members of a hate group harassing patrons at a Connecticut mall and raising Nazi salutes in July. An apartment complex in Ft. Lauderdale, additionally, was targeted with anti-Semitic and racist leaflets "celebrating" Hitler's birthday in April.

Harassment Increases in 2004

Disappointingly, incidents of harassment increased by 27%, with 1,777 incidents reported in 2004 (a drastic jump from the 929 incidents reported in 2003). Harassment comprised 65% of the total number of hate crime acts in 2004. Acts of vandalism also climbed from 628 incidents in 2003 to 644 incidents in 2004. Once again, the most hate crimes occurred in New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Anti-Semitic organizations responsible for nearly 15% of the recorded harassment cases in 2004 include the neo-Nazi National Alliance, KKK factions, White Revolution, White Aryan Resistance, and David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO). Leafleting and the internet were the main modes of operation for delivering propaganda.

Overview & Conclusion

____________________ The 2005 CAIR report, which indicates an increase in Anti-Muslim activity between 2003 and 2004, is a disappointing wake-up call. Most salient is the increase in unwarranted arrests and searches by law enforcement. 80% of hate crimes occurred in the same states, among the worst California and New York. These statistics, however, could be partially explained by the states' large (Muslim) populations. Anti-Muslim activity persists into 2005 with the firebombing of an El Paso mosque and the desecration of a Qur'an with human waste in Nashville, among other incidents. Crimes targeting Sikhs have become more common and better documented since 9/11, with the Sikh Coalition alone having helped with more than 62 cases of hate crimes, 27 cases of racial profiling, and 22 incidents of employment discrimination. Many of these cases were motivated by the turban, or "saroop," worn by Sikhs that for many hasty Americans symbolizes terrorism. This simple piece of religious garb alone has accounted for the "ethnic assault" of students and numerous other physical attacks. Despite the ever-increasing hate crime count, however, accomplishments have been made; the May 2004 court order to reinstate Sikh police officer Jasjit Singh Jaggi, who had resigned from his job rather than obey orders to remove his turban and shave his beard, is an important benchmark in the freedom of religious expression. Hindus also remain the target of vandalism and harassment. This is not so much because of their religious affiliation, which enforces ideals of equality, but simply because of racism. Hindus are often mistaken for Arabs, which, in the minds of many Americans, are equated with extremist Muslim terrorists. This is not solely due to a lack of information, but to an abundance of misinformation and paranoia propagated by the media. Indeed, when a picture of an Arab individual flashes on the evening news, more times than not the corresponding story is that of a "suspected" terrorist plot. As one sees in the ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents from both 2003 and 2004, anti-Semitic incidents are also on the rise. Incidents of harassment have increased and the same states remain the site of the majority of incidents, namely New York, New Jersey, California, Florida, Massachusetts and Connecticut. In 2004, anti-Semitic organizations were responsible for nearly 15% of harassment cases. Modes of operation included leafleting and the internet. Indeed, the nexus between globalization and discrimination is significant and deserves further attention. According to the "Comprehensive Examination of Thematic Issues Relating to the Elimination of Racial Discrimination," a report written by the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discriminations and Protection of Minorities [of the Commission on Human Rights] at the turn of the millennium, globalization and the media provide the tools and loopholes necessary for the spreading prejudice:
"...[A] particularly disturbing format for the distribution and propagation of racist messages and symbols is the Internet; in similar fashion, radio is an even more powerful and pernicious tool, particularly in societies that suffer high levels of poverty and marginalization, attended by illiteracy and dictatorship where alternative and oppositional politics is highly circumscribed; the process of globalization may itself carry within it notions of racial superiority and discrimination based on a vision of the world seeking to make uniform, to dominate or to suppress." In truth, one can only speculate as to the motives of a vandal or assailant. It is, nonetheless, undeniable that the increase in anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh, anti-Hindu and anti-Semitic incidents post 9/11 correspond to the rapid pace of globalization and heightened tensions.


"Balbir Singh Sodhi Honored"
"Sikh Cabbies Rally"
"Sikh Subway Driver Reassigned After Refusing to Remove Turban"
"Update: Joint Legal Action by Sikhs Against the Metropolitan Transit Authority"
"Ashland Teen Faces Decade in Prison for Defacing Hindu Temple"
"ADL Condemns Hate Crime Against Hindu"
"ADL Audit Finds Anti-Semitic Incidents Remain Constant; More Than 1,500 Incidents Reported Across U.S. in 2003"
"Comprehensive Examination of Thematic Issues Relating to the Elimination of Racial Discrimination"
"Opinion: Muslim Civil Liberties Under Attack on the Fourth of July" Picture from news_051203a.html.