(CNSNews.com) – U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Monday that there has been a 67 percent increase in hate crimes committed against Muslim Americans, according to FBI statistics released on the number of hate crimes committed in 2015.
Lynch said that number represented “the highest total of anti-Muslim incidents since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
“Just last month, the FBI released its statistics on the number of hate crimes committed in 2015. The report was a sobering indication of how much work remains to be done. Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased six percent from 2014,” Lynch said at an interfaith event on the Justice Department’s commitment to combat hate crimes.
“That figure includes increases in hate crimes committed against Jewish Americans, African Americans, and LGBTQ Americans, and perhaps most troublingly of all, it showed a 67 percent increase in hate crimes committed against Muslim Americans, and the highest total of anti-Muslim incidents since 2001, when 9/11 spurred so many reprehensible acts,” Lynch added.
According to the FBI’s report, in 2015, there were 257 “anti-Islamic (Muslim)” incidents, 301 such offenses, 307 victims of anti-Muslim hate crimes, and 228 known offenders.
According to the Justice Department’s “Confronting Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Era” report, “In the first six years after 9/11, the Department investigated more than 800 incidents involving violence, threats, vandalism, and arson against persons perceived to be Muslim or of Arab, Middle Eastern, or South Asian origin.”
The DOJ report, published on Oct. 19, 2011, showed close to 500 reported anti-Muslim hate crime incidents in 2001, followed by a precipitous drop down to 150 anti-Muslim hate crime incidents in 2002.
“These incidents – and these statistics – should be of the deepest concern to every American. Because hate crimes don’t just target individuals. They tear at the fabric of our communities, and they also stain our dearest ideals and our nation’s very soul,” Lynch said.
“There is a pernicious thread that connects the act of violence against a woman wearing a hijab to the assault on a transgender man to the tragic deaths of nine innocent African Americans during a Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina,” Lynch added, referring to the Charleston church shooting massacre.
“In recent months, our Civil Rights Division – led by Vanita Gupta, who is here with us today – along with our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, have convicted a Connecticut man for firing a high-powered rifle at a mosque; a Florida man for threatening to firebomb two mosques and shoot their congregants; a Missouri man for the arson of a local mosque; and a North Carolina man who yelled at a woman and ripped off her hijab on an airplane,” Lynch said.
“And in October, our National Security Division and the U.S Attorney’s Office in Kansas charged three men in connection with their plot to detonate bombs at an apartment complex in Garden City, Kansas, which included a mosque where many members of the local Somali immigrant community gather to pray. These are only a few examples of the Justice Department’s recent prosecutions,” she said.
“The Justice Department is also working to protect the rights of religious communities to build houses of worship without unlawful interference or harassment. Unfortunately, that task has only become more urgent in recent years. Members of the Civil Rights Division have heard repeatedly about more overt discrimination in both the tone and framing of objections to planned religious institutions, especially mosques and Islamic centers,” Lynch added.