Despite an alarmingly high number of Islamophobic hate crimes, Muslims across the United States stand strong in the face of bigotry.
Rabat – In the months following the horrific Christchurch attacks in March, which claimed the lives of 51 Muslims in New Zealand, there have been a number of high-profile threats and discriminatory actions committed against Muslims in the United States.
Last month, on April 29, a mosque was ransacked and several Qurans were destroyed in Queens, New York, when a man broke into a mosque in a hate-fueled rage.
This week, on May 21, a man was arrested in Miami Gardens, Florida, after threatening to “kill Muslims one by one” on social media.
These attacks have been part of an alarming surge in hatred against minorities in the United States, which has been steadily increasing since 2015, according to Abbas Barzegar, the national research and advocacy director at the Council on American-islamic Relations (CAIR).
Although we are less than halfway into 2019, CAIR has already tracked over 500 incidences of anti-Muslim bias, and the organization believes that these alarming numbers are only the tip of the iceberg.
“We’ve already reported over 500 incidences of anti-Muslim bias or harassment just this year so far,” Barzegar said.
“That’s very preliminary reporting. I know a number of our chapters have not filed their reports yet… I believe that’s a very low estimate already of what’s happening across the country.”
Hatred on the rise
According to CAIR reports, anti-Muslim bias and discrimination experienced a “demonstrable uptick” leading up to the 2016 Presidential Elections in the United States. Donald Trump’s campaign, Barzegar claimed, capitalized on this increase in Islamophobia and perpetuated the growth of anti-Muslim bias.
“It was the rhetoric coming out of Trump’s campaign that certified that,” Barzegar said.
“We started to see things in Trump’s campaign, rhetoric-wise, that was typically very far off on the margins: things you would find on far-right radio or the outskirts of the internet. Now it’s becoming so acceptable and mainstream.”
Both prior to and throughout his presidency, Donald Trump’s use of hate as a weapon has allowed for fringe white supremacist and far-right groups to bring their ideologies to the forefront of political discussion.
Among the president’s most controversial statements are his claims that he witnessed Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the September 11 attacks and that “Islam hates us.” He has also considered creating a database for all Muslims in the United States and preventing Muslims from entering the country.
However, perhaps his most controversial and egregious statement has been shutting down mosques across the country, a clear violation of religious freedom and human rights.
Despite these attempts at inspiring fear, Muslims across the United States have refused to be terrified into silence.
Following the Christchurch shooting, mosques across New Zealand and the rest of the world were especially crowded, while the arson attempt in New Haven did not prevent Muslims from gathering for prayer just a few hours after the fire had started.
“What I’m seeing is that people are hopeful, they’re strong, they’re determined, and they’re not fearful,” Barzegar said. “There’s a solemness there, there’s a melancholy, there might be some anxiety, but there isn’t fear.