A 1,700 percent upsurge in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab hate crimes in the United States after Sept. 11 was the subject of the latest report on the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.
“It’s surprising that the numbers have gone up so much, but it doesn’t surprise me that that section of society is the one being targeted. It’s only because certain Muslims were named as the perpetrators of Sept. 11,” LSA freshman R.J. Gibbs said.
The 41-page report, titled, “We Are Not the Enemy,” draws on studies with various police departments, community activists and victims of hate crimes in six cities, including Dearborn.
“These are cities that have big Arab and Muslim populations or have a history of bias-motivated violence among those groups”, said Amardeep Singh, author of the report and U.S. program researcher at Human Rights Watch.
The research was done in response to steps taken by government officials to prevent and prosecute hate crimes, which included murder, assault, arson and vandalism, after the attacks of Sept. 11.
“This report is the only evaluation of response to the backlash of violence against Muslims and Arab-Americans. Many other reports spoke of a backlash, but none really evaluated the situation,” Singh said.
The report did not accuse the government of ignoring reports of hate crimes and harassment after Sept. 11, but it emphasized the need for government vigilance in the face of this type of hate crime onslaught.
“I think, overall, September 11 took the nation completely by surprise and in dealing with the aftermath, the government tried to prepare, but you can’t necessarily control what individuals do. … The issue should have been addressed then, but it wasn’t, so it needs to be addressed now,” LSA freshman Brette Woessner said.
The report lauded the official condemnation by the U.S. government of the hate crimes after Sept. 11, but it noted that the U.S. government contradicted its anti-prejudice message by focusing its anti-terrorism efforts on Arabs and Muslims.
” The most important recommendation we can make for local, state and federal governments is to recognize that there is a history of backlash violence against Arab-Americans and Muslims. It is imperative that the government formulate a backlash mitigation plan to combat future hostile responses in the case of another terrorist attack,” Singh said.