Terrorism is a global security issue that has become a central subject in the safety of humans across the world. For decades, wars have been taking political and economic dimensions, where different nations compete for common resources and markets. However, the advent of terrorism in the 21st century leads to the emergence of the new dimension of wars, which takes religious and racial dimensions. The fight between Muslims and Christians makes modern wars to gain religious dimension. Moreover, terrorism and the war on terror have taken racial dimension because Arabs and Americans fight against each other based on their races. While Americans and their allies across the world perceive Arabs as offensive terrorists, the Arabs perceive them as offensive imperialists. Ahmad (2004) argues that the acts of terrorism across the world have heightened hate crimes committed against Muslims and Arabs. The association of Muslims and Arabs with terrorism has led to the widespread hate crimes aimed at punishing them because they are abetting terrorism and aiding terrorists to perpetuate crimes against innocent people.
The major terror activities such as September 11, 2001 did set the pace for the occurrence of hate crimes against Muslims across the world. As the aftermath of the September 11, 200, the United States reviewed its foreign policy regarding the security and immigrants of people. One of the landmarks that enhanced the fight against terrorism in the United States is the enactment of the PATRIOT Act (2001), which empowered the United States to scale up its war on terror by undertaking advanced surveillance and scrutiny of the people. The implementation of the PATRIOT Act unfairly targets Arabs and Muslims because of their association with terrorism. According to Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014), Arabs and Muslims undergo strict surveillance and searches, unlike other people in the United States because of the stereotypes that the media and other races have made to tarnish the name and image of Arabs and Muslims. In this view, the modern society has accepted the stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims in relation to terrorism and thus has created an environment that support hate crimes directed at the Muslim community.
Since the war on terror is a global issue, the United States and its allies such as the United Kingdom and France among others have heightened their resolve to eliminate terrorists across the globe. In this view, hate crimes committed against Muslims and Arabs have taken international perspective because it happens in virtual all countries. For example, the fight between Christians and Muslims is common in Nigeria, while terror attacks are common in Kenya and Tanzania due to the proximity of Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab groups. Thus, hate crimes are prevalent among countries that have experienced terrorism and are undertaking anti-terrorism activities. Following the increased cases of hate crimes directed against Muslims. McCorkell (2011) states that Muslims are raising concerns about the negative impacts of war on terror because foreign policies, as well as security policies in the United States and United Kingdom offer unfair treatment. While the war on terror is an essential security measure that dominant countries support, biased implementation has led to the occurrence of hate crimes among Muslims and Arabs. Thus, the war on terror is a complex phenomenon in which some of the actions constitute hate crimes.
Statistics of hate crimes are shocking because they have increased tremendously following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. According to Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014), hate crimes directed at Muslims have increased by 1600% following September 11, 2001, and thus have made the hate crimes to rank as the second highest form of anti-Islamic crime. Such a drastic increase in the prevalence of hate crimes implies that the terror incidence of September 11, 2001 made a significant impact on how people perceive Muslims and terrorism. The beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which people held about Muslims and terrorism, took a new dimension following a realization that most terror suspects were Muslims. In shaping attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, the media plays a central role. Bonino (2012) argues that the strategies that the United Kingdom applies in counterterrorism treat Muslims as suspect community, and thus create an environment where ordinary citizens and law enforcement officers commit hate crimes. Hence, hate crimes that Muslims experience in the United States, Europe and other countries emanate from attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which paint them as potential terrorists.
Analysis of statistics shows that hate crimes comprise a serious issue because they indicate the extent to which government and ordinary people violate the rights of Muslims and Arabs, while they presume to be creating a safe and secure world. Across the world, Islamophobia is a common phenomenon because of the wide speared terror activities, which people have linked to Muslims and Arabs. Essentially, Islamophobia is a fear or distrust that people develop towards Muslims because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which relate them to terrorists and terrorism. This implies that the prevalence of hate crimes directed to Muslims originate from the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people harbor. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 affected Americans, Islamophobia has increased exponentially among Americans. According to Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014), a survey conducted in 2010 indicates that 40% of Americans have developed distrust towards Muslims. These statistics imply that 40% of Americans are likely to commit hate crimes against Muslims because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that they have nurtured.
Hate crimes usually happen in public places and thus deny the Muslims the privileges of enjoying their freedom just like other people. Major incidences of hate crimes depict that Muslims undergo strict searches and scrutiny because law enforcement officers perceive them as potential terrorists. For instance, recent hate crime reports show employees of Delta Air Lines mistreated a Washington imam by denying him to board their plane because he was a Muslim (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2014). Such treatment does not only discriminate against Muslims, but also interferes with their freedom of traveling to various destinations of their choice. Recent surveys regarding how Americans perceive Muslims indicate that 45% of Americans agree that Islamic values do not rhyme with American values and thus form the basis of Islamophobia (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2014). Comparatively, the perceptions that Europeans have about the Muslims are similar to that of the Americans. According to Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014), European report shows that Muslims are 42 times likely experience hate crimes when compared to other races. Thus, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of other races perceive Muslims negatively in relation to terrorism and hence make them victims of hate crimes.
Statement of the Problem
The appalling incident of September 11, 2001, which shook the United States and the entire world, has made Muslims victims of hate crimes because non-Muslims have attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that link Muslims to terrorism. The cases of hate crimes directed against Muslims have increased in the past decade because people perceive Muslims as potential terrorists. Ample evidence shows that in London alone, by the year 2009, approximately 962 Islamophobic offenses have happened 2009 (Umbreit, Lewis, & Burns, 2003). The increase in the hate crimes partly occurs because the media has continued to associate Muslims with terrorism, and thus it has nurtured beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that support hate crimes. In essence, the media paints Muslims as violent people owing to the incidents of terrorism and the prevalence of terrorists in the Middle Eastern countries (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2010). In this view, it suffices to say that social and print media are responsible for the increased hate crime directed at Muslims. Moreover, film industry such as Hollywood bears the greatest responsibility for the hate crimes because it has incessantly presented Muslims as bad people. According to the Anti-Defamation League (2014), a campaign such as Stop Islamization of America has fueled hate crimes against Muslims because it depicts them as intruders, who want to destroy the United States and the world. Similar sentiments are common in the Europe and Canada, where hate crimes against Muslims have increased.
The consistent association of Muslims with violent acts and terrorism has led development of stereotypes among non-Muslims in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world, which portray Muslims as people, who do not value human dignity and peace (Umbreit, Lewis, & Burns, 2003). The attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that non-Muslims nurture emanate from the depiction of terrorism across the world by the media. Thus, the media influence how non-Muslims perceive Muslims and consequently make them to commit hate crimes. Therefore, this thesis analyzes various beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that make individuals to support hate crimes directed at the Muslims.
- To identify attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that make non-Muslims across the world to associate the Muslims with violence and terrorism.
- To examine the role that the media play in leveraging the occurrence of hate crimes directed against Muslims and associating Muslims with hate terrorism and related acts of violence, which are dominant in the Middle East.
- To elucidate how attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions correlate with hate crimes directed at Muslims in various parts of the world, especially in Europe and the United States.
- To analyze how non-Muslims perceive terrorism and hate crimes in various parts of the world, especially in the Europe, Canada, and the United States.
- To obtain insights on how Muslims have experienced hate crimes in their lives or among other Muslims.
- What are the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that correlate with individual support for hate crimes directed at the Muslim community post September 11, 2001?
- How do the media shape perceptions of non-Muslims about Muslims and makes them to commit hate crimes?
- What are the common forms of hate crimes that Muslims experience?
Since hate crimes have become a global issue that affect Muslims, attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people hold about terrorism and Islam influence them to commit hate crimes against Muslims
Hate crimes directed against Muslims have become an international issue because they have formed the basis for prejudiced and discrimination. The cases of hate crimes have increased considerably in the past decade following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Vandalism of Mosques and constant assaults of Muslims are common cases of hate crimes that affect Muslims in various parts of the world (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). Despite the fact that hate crimes are prevalent, Muslims fear reporting them because they perceive that the law enforcement agencies are unwilling to act on their cases effectively. McCorkell states that analysis of hate crimes indicates that Muslims are 42 times more likely to experience hate crimes than non-Muslims. Such statistics indicate cases of hate crimes directed at Muslims have reached unprecedented levels. With time, cases of hate crimes have increased because since April 2009, the Metropolitan Police have encountered 762 Islamophobic offenses (McCorkell, 2011). Other reports indicate that hate crimes in the United Kingdom are dominant because victims reported about 1,200 anti-Muslim crimes and 546 anti-Semitic crimes in the year 2010 (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). Hence, the prevalence of hate crimes among Muslims indicates that non-Muslims, who are the perpetrators of hate crimes, harbor some attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which make them to commit hate crimes.
The events of September 11, 2001 did create mistrust among people across the world because they have generated cascades of war, which have dominated global realm. Analysis of terror and anti-terror activities indicates that the world safety and peace is very delicate because of the distrust that exists among various religions across the world. The dominant mistrust is the one that exists between Muslims and non-Muslims. According to Council on American-Islamic Relations (2012), Islamophobes nurture stereotypes, beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that paint Muslims as terrorist. The major terror or attacks such as the one of September 11, 2001 did portray Muslims as potential terrorists. In this view, non-Muslims direct hate crimes at Muslims as a way of discouraging terrorism or defending themselves. In a study to examine the impacts of anti-terrorism, 69% of British, 62% of Canadians, and 57% of Mexicans believe that the United States foreign policy about the war on terror has made the world unsafe when compared to the year 2001 (Glover, 2006). This means that people perceive the policy of antiterrorism as an ineffective in promoting peace in the world. Since the safety of the world is dependent on the fights between terrorists and anti-terrorists groups, it implies Muslims would continue to experience hate crimes.
Over decades, the United States has experienced threats from other countries such as Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and South Korea amongst others. The global threats to the United States have changed with time depending on the nature of players. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2006) state that the emergence of terrorism has made the United States to threaten global security in its quest to eliminate terrorism. Since the United Sates is a superpower country, it has managed to subdue other nations because of its capacity to influence political, economic, and social aspects of other nations. Owing to its influential foreign policy and war on terror, other nations have viewed it as a threat to global peace and safety of people. According to a survey, world leaders are the cause of insecurity in the world because people perceived that Osama Bin Laden, George Bush, and Kim Jong-II contributed to global anxiety and threaten peace by 87%, 75%, and 69% respectively (Glover, 2006). This means world leaders contribute to global peace and security in their actions that they perform. While George Bush represents the United States, Osama Bin Laden represents Muslims, the two clashing sides in the global arena.
Currently, the world is experiencing unprecedented threat of terrorism because nations, world leaders, and ordinary people have taken sides: the terror side against the anti-terror side and vice versa. Over decades, the United States has been the only country that is experiencing the acts of terrorism, but the advent of global anti-terror campaigns have included other countries like the United Kingdom and France among the list of anti-terror groups (Kundnani, 2014). Moreover, developing countries have joined their masters in developed countries in fighting terrorism. Thus, the multifaceted approach to anti-terrorism has complicated the fight against terrorism because it has succumbed to hate crimes against Muslims. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2006) asserts that the hate crimes against Muslims have emerged because of a number of factors such as the fight against terrorism, stereotypes against Muslims, and religious intolerance. Such factors have contributed to the rise in hate crimes directed at Muslims and Muslim community and thus complicating the issue of security across the world. In this view, everyone has become victim to either terrorism or hate crimes in the world.
Owing to unfavorable attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which paint Muslims as terrorists, the society has somehow alienated Muslims. Currently, there is poor integration of Muslims into various societies in both Europe and the United States because of the perceptions that people hold against them. According to Kundnani (2014), “Muslims struggle to integrate into the modern society that harbored negative sentiments against them because of the global issue of terrorism” (p. 44). Since racism has been a social issue, which distorts the integration of various races into one community, terrorism has heightened the vice of racism and discrimination in the world. Wherever Muslims go, they experience hate crimes because Islamophobes are ready to give them harsh treatment. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2006) cites socioeconomic marginalization, racism, discrimination, and Islamophobia as some of the social factors that contribute to the occurrence of hate crimes. Thus, hate crimes is a complex issue that is dependent on the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people hold against Muslims.
Religious identity of Muslims is an outstanding feature, which make other people perceive them in bad light. Since it appears that all terrorists are Muslims, people have associated Muslims with intolerant acts of terrorism. The world view identity of Muslims as a unique one because of their religious practices and doctrines. Jihadism is a religious doctrine in which extremists have used to mean holy war against non-Muslims because they are not believers of Islamic doctrine. On the other hand, non-Muslims have taken such doctrine seriously and have perceived Muslims as enemies in their society. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2006) reports that since Muslims have a unique identity, their freedom is minimal across the world because wherever they go, the hosting communities perceive them as outsiders, who want to integrate into their society and bring terror or negative elements in their midst. Hence, Muslims are prone to hate crimes since the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that are dominant in the United States, Europe, and Africa are against them. Kundnani (2014) states that although Muslims struggle to reveal their identity as friendly people with tolerable religion, the acts of terrorism overwhelms their identity. Thus, hate crimes have become a complex issue because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which non-Muslims have continued to hold against Muslims.
Daily reports indicate that hate crimes have increased significantly following September 11, 2001 attacks because of negative attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions against Muslims increased and buttressed into internal communities. Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014) state that the incidences of hate crimes have increased by 1600% because of negative attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people hold about Muslims. Such an increase in hate crimes shows that the society has become intolerant to Muslims. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2006) state that Muslims encounter hate crimes daily in social places, workplaces, the media, and religious circles. In social places such as schools, non-Muslims use derogatory terms against Muslims by depicting them as terrorists or abusing their religious practices. Usually, non-Muslims scorn at Muslims because of their dressing code and their worship practices and thus paint them as unworthy people in the society.
In workplaces, Muslims experience discrimination as their bosses may not grant them freedom to wear their dressing code and worship according to their Islamic doctrines. Muslim Public Affairs Council (2014) report that hate crimes experience immense hate crimes in their workplaces because of attitude, beliefs, and assumptions that their employers hold against Muslims. The media is also full of hate crimes directed at Muslims because it provides freedom of expression, which at times can go overboard and constitute hate crimes. Bloggers and other users of social sites such as Facebook and Twitter have played a significant role in the spread of attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that support hate crimes or spread of hate crimes. Moreover, religious teachings among non-Muslims and misinterpretation of Islamic doctrines have also contributed to the occurrence of hate crimes. Kundnani (2014) argues that the stereotypes that people have nurtured against Muslims have become a powerful force, which cause hate crimes. This implies that Muslims have to demystify these attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people hold so that they can overcome hate crimes.
Hate crimes have no demographic boundaries because they affect both adults and children, irrespective of gender. Sandoval, Lysiak, and Scharpiro (2011), report an incident in which a student assaulted a 13-year-old girl because she wore a headscarf, which she believed to represent terrorism. Just a mere dressing code of Muslims makes non-Muslims to perceive Muslims as potential terrorists or abettors of terrorism. The statistics reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) shows that 1,700 cases have happened since the year 2002 (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). Evidently, comparative analysis shows that the cases of hate crimes in the United States are higher than hate crimes in Europe or Canada and thus confirms that the incident of September 11, 2001 has changed attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that Americans hold about Muslims and terrorism. Overall, the literature review indicates that hate crimes against Muslims emanate from stereotypes, which paint Muslims as bad people among the global communities (Craig-Henderson, & Brown-Sims, 2004). Hate crimes are common in social places like shopping centers, markets, restaurants, schools, buses, planes, and political rallies, where people interact freely (Bayoumi, 2011). Hence, the prevalence of hate crimes in social implies that Muslims are not safe in modern society.
In spite of the fact that hate crimes against Muslims originate from the activities of terrorists like the one that occurred in September 11, 2001, the media has generated stereotypes, which paint Muslims as bad people in the society by associating them with terrorism and perceiving them as potential terrorists. Individuals and organizations have used the power of media in creating stereotypes, which have changed attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people hold about terrorism. In the year 2010 and 2011, the FBI report indicates that propaganda increased the prevalence of hate crimes by 50% (Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). Although cases of hate crimes increase, the reported cases are considerably low because all victims of hate crimes do not report. Given that the trend of hate crimes increases, projections show that about 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims have experienced hate crimes (Falcone, 2006; Lambert & Githens-Mazer, 2010). As Muslims struggle to agitate for their rights, they experience massive resistance from non-Muslims because they perceive their agitation as a way of gaining global dominance. The sentiments of Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Senator, insinuate that democracy and Islam are incompatible given that Quran is a perfect law (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2010). Such an example indicates beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes, which non-Muslims hold about Muslims and their religion. Therefore, Muslims experience some forms of discrimination they struggle to fight for their rights and overcome hate crimes directed at them by non-Muslims.
Given that the social media is powerful in spreading information, it has made a significant impact on the beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which non-Muslims hold about Muslims and terrorism. Essentially, the social media has given Muslims a negative publicity and destroyed their image before non-Muslims. According to Love (2009), despite the fact that Muslims have tried to dissociate themselves from the acts of terrorism, they still experience hate crimes. A classical story that depicts the occurrence of hate crimes against Muslims, which the Niagara Regional Police report, is that of a 16-year-old girl, who assaulted a 17-year-old Muslim girl for wearing her headscarf (Carr, 2011). Such an incident of hate crime is not unique for children at their schools commit similar hate crimes against their fellow students, who are Muslims. Another recent incident involved harassment of Washington imam by the Delta Airlines in the United States (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2014). The increasing incidences of hate crimes have forced Muslims to institute campaigns with the objective of changing attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which perceive them as potential terrorists. What triggered massive campaigns against hate crimes is the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich (Tasker, 2012). Therefore, Muslims believe that extensive campaigns would change beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions of non-Muslims and thus reverse the trends of hate crimes against them in various parts of the world such as United States, Canada, Africa, Middle East, and Europe.
The study employed qualitative research design in assessing the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that non-Muslims hold against Muslims in relation to terrorism and hate crimes. Specifically, the study employed survey as a methodology of collecting data from the study participants. The study expects the participants to provide their attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions regarding the relationship between Muslims and terrorism. Appendix A has interview questions that the study employed in collecting attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions of victims and imams regarding the experience of hate crimes.
The target population of the study comprises of Muslims. In this research paper, the subjects of study are students in colleges and imams, who are the heads of the nearby mosques. The study aims to collect beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which non-Muslims hold as they commit hate crimes against Muslims in colleges and other social places. Since hate crime is a social issue, the victims of hate crimes are an important target population of the study because they provide firsthand experience of hate crimes (Zahedi, 2011). Thus, the study administered questionnaires to the victims of hate crimes so that they could provide reliable insights about attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which perpetrators of hate crimes commit. Moreover, the study interviewed imams of the nearby mosques because they understand the nature of social issues that Muslims experience and thus provided invaluable data about hate crimes.
The study selected sample participants using purposive sampling technique. Purposive sample is effective because it provides opportunity for researchers to select participants with certain attributes to take part in a study (Ray, 2012). In this view, the study selected students, who are the victims of hate crimes because they have firsthand information on attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that perpetrators of hate crimes hold. Using purposive sampling, the study selected 10 students, 5 male and 5 female students, from the college and 3 imams.
Variables of the Study
Since the study is a qualitative study, it seeks to establish the existence of correlation between two different variables. One variable comprises of social factors that make non-Muslims across the world to support hate crimes against Muslims. These social factors are beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which tend to associate Muslims with terrorism and acts of violence. The second variable is the prevalence of hate crimes against Muslims. From the literature review, it is evident that the Muslim community fears reporting hate crimes committed towards them, since the police rarely take them seriously (Kwan, 2008). Thus, the study sought to establish the prevalence of hate crimes among Muslims with the objective of correlating them with the social factors that contribute to their occurrence among Muslims.
Data Collection Procedure
Data collection is an important part of the study because it determines the validity of the data. Hate crimes is a sensitive issue in which, if not handled well, it would affect the reliability and validity of data. As the study deals with human subjects, the study administered informed consent in compliance with ethical principles of research (Ahmad, 2004). The informed consent gave the participants the reasons of the study and thus dispelled any fears, which could influence the reliability and validity of the collected data. Moreover, the study guaranteed confidentiality of the information obtained from participants given that hate crimes is a sensitive issue among people.
From the literature review, it is evident that hate Muslims and terrorism have close association owing to the stereotypes created by the media. The incident of September 11, 2001, made Americans to nurture beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which associate Muslims with terrorism (Choudhury, & Fenwick, 2011). On this basis, the study hypothesizes that the media has made non-Muslims harbor negative perceptions about Muslims. Hence, the study analyzed the data collected by examining the nature of beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that make non-Muslims commit hate crimes against Muslims. Additionally, the study also sought to establish the relationship between the negative publicity of Muslims and hate crimes. In this view, the study hypothesizes that the media influence beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that associate Muslims with terrorism and thus contribute to the occurrence of hate crimes.
Research Findings and Discussions
Responses from the Victims of Hate Crimes
From the interview responds, it is evident that all participants understand what constitutes hate crimes because they have experienced in their lives. In the view, hate crimes constitute victimization of Muslims based on their racial and religious orientations in relation to terrorism. Bayoumi (2011) argues that Islamophobes commit hate crimes because they hold negative attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions about Muslims. Hence, the understanding of hate crimes forms the basis of the study because it indicates that the participants are aware of the hate crimes that they have experienced in their lives.
Regarding the question, which asked about the experience of hate crimes, the participants indicated that they have experienced one or more forms of hate crimes. The diversity of the hate crimes signifies that they are prevalent among Muslims because of their religious and racial orientations in relation to terrorism. One of the participants indicated that he experienced hate crimes in the classroom because his classmates harassed and mistreated him in front of other students because he was the only Muslim in the class. The participant stated that the classmates bullied him because they perceived him one of the terrorists, who are attacking innocent people in various parts of the world. From such experience, it is evident that hate crimes associate with perceptions that non-Muslims hold about the terrorism and Muslims.
Other two participants showed that they have experienced hate crimes in their classroom with their tutor being the perpetrator. The participants stated that their tutors gave them low marks because they were Muslims and thus they could not deserve better grades than their colleagues, who are non-Muslims. Three participants stated that they experienced racial discrimination in college because their colleagues did not want to associate with them. The racial discrimination happened because they were Muslims and thus other students believed that they support terrorism. Female students cited that their classmates harass and bully them by removing their clothing, hijab, forcefully. Their colleagues assume that hijab makes Muslims women appear ugly like terrorists. The remaining four participants cited insult and mockery as some of the hate crimes they have experienced in college. Such hate crimes indicate that our colleges are not safe for Muslims because Islamophobes spread their hate crimes against Muslims.
The participants confessed that they have endured several stereotypes in their lives. The common stereotype is that non-Muslims perceive Muslims as potential terrorists, who are waiting are looking for an opportunity to commit terrorism against innocent people. Such stereotype clearly paints all Muslims as people on a mission to kill other people. Another stereotype is that non-Muslims belief that Islamic religion supports and abets terrorism across the world. The stereotype emerges because terrorists perform their terror attacks in the name of Islamic religion. Moreover, non-Muslims believe that Islamic religion offers a breeding ground for terrorists and thus are intolerant to the presence of mosques and Muslims in their territories. Given that Muslims wear unique clothing, people have stereotyped that women are suicide bombers because they carry bombs hidden in their hijabs and dressing code. Therefore, basing on all these stereotypes, it is apparent that perpetrators of hate crimes relate Muslims with terrorism.
The participants also indicated that have experienced and read about hate crimes in social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The common hate crimes are harassment, intimidation, insult, mockery, threat, and abuse. The participants stated that non-Muslims direct these hate crimes to Muslims because they are extremists, terrorists, and abettors of terrorism. As the nature of terrorism, the participants cited that the common ones are discrimination, physical assault, and defamation of their race, religion, and identity. All the participants also noted that they have witnessed hate crimes against their friends in social places such as colleges, markets, shopping centers, neighborhoods, schools, mosques, workplaces, and in the Internet. The discrimination is a common form of hate crimes because the participants noted that whenever they interact with non-Muslims, they experience neglect and marginalization. The participants noted that non-Muslims do not trust them because they believe that they are potential terrorists. In this view, the Muslims cannot perform similar activities with non-Muslims because of the prejudice and intolerance that their colleagues depict against them.
While Muslims perceive anti-terrorism as against their beliefs and rights, non-Muslims support it. The participants argued that non-Muslims take advantage of the anti-terrorism ideology and commit hate crimes against them. This means that non-Muslims believe and assume that hate crimes is part of the mission of anti-terrorism. According to Carr (2011), the anti-terrorism ideology has increased the prevalence of hate crimes because Islamophobes use it as an excuse to commit hate crimes against Muslims.
The participants stated that the perpetrators of hate crimes do not trust them because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which they hold paint Muslims as potential terrorists. Although the participants categorically stated that Islamic religion, Muslims, and Islamic teachings do not support terrorism, they stated that perpetrators of hate crimes continue to link them to terrorism so that they can justify their hate crimes. Bayoumi (2011) argues that the stereotype that assumes all Muslims as terrorists emanate from the attacks of September 11, 2001. Hence, Muslims continue to experience hate crimes because of the beliefs and assumptions that non-Muslims have continued to nurture about Muslims.
In the war against terrorism, Muslims have received strict surveillance and unreasonable researches in public places. The participants indicated that the law enforcement officers strictly monitor them whenever they are in social places and searches them quite often than their counterparts, who are non-Muslims. The incident of the Delta Airlines, which denied Washington imam to take flight because of his religious and racial background, shows the extent to which Muslims experience discrimination and prejudice in public places (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2014). Strict surveillance and unreasonable searches make Muslims feel uncomfortable in public places. The prevalence of hate crimes indicates that Muslims enjoy limited rights when compared to non-Muslims.
The participants stated that the media is promoting hate crimes because it generates stereotypes, which Islamophobes adopt and utilize in committing hate crimes. The media have painted Muslims as potential terrorists, abettors of terrorism, extremists, intolerant people, and terror groups. Since the media are powerful in creating, spreading stereotypes and other social constructs about Muslims, it contributes to the occurrence of hate crimes in the world. Choudhury and Fenwick (2011) assert that counterterrorism measures and stereotypes paints Muslims in a negative way and thus predispose them to hate crimes among non-Muslims. Thus, attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that link Muslims to terrorism have contributed to the increase in hate crimes directed at Muslims.
Responses from Imams
The imams did indicate that they understand hate crimes as victimization of Muslims based on their religious and racial orientation in relation to terrorism. The imams noted that the common causes of hate crimes directed at Muslims are stereotypes, which make non-Muslims to have negative attitudes, nurture harmful beliefs, and make disparaging assumptions against Muslims. The perpetrators of hate crimes are mainly non-Muslims because they believe that Muslims and terrorists are the same and thus they do not deserve fair treatment in the society. The imams further noted that they have continued to experience hate crimes. One imam stated that the law enforcement officers harassed, searched, and arrested him because they thought he was one of the suspected terrorists on the wanted list. The other imams stated that law enforcement officers denied them access public places unless they perform thorough search, while their counterparts do not receive such treatments. Lambert and Githens-Mazer (2010) state that Islamophobic attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions have infiltrated into the criminal justice system, which make Muslims to receive unfair treatment.
Regarding the reports of hate crimes, the imams stated that Muslims report to them cases of hate crimes. Since victims of hate crimes fear discrimination and prejudice, they rarely report cases of hate crimes to the law enforcement agencies (Choudhury & Fenwick, 2011). Thus, it implies that imams have the invaluable statistics, which depict the prevalence of hate crimes in a given society. The imams stated that they do not support terrorism and they have no links with terrorists. According to the imams, the hate crimes directed at Muslims emanate from the stereotypes, which the media has created and continued to perpetuate in the society. The imams stated that hate crimes and terrorism associate because of the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions, which non-Muslims hold against Muslims.
Moreover, the imams associate hate crimes with anti-terrorism because anti-terrorism provides avenues for non-Muslims and law enforcement agencies to commit hate crimes against Muslims. Therefore, the imams hold that the media and anti-terrorism ideologies have created stereotypes that portray Muslims as terrorists and thus they deserve harsh treatment in terms of hate crimes so that they can renounce terrorism. As religious and social issue, the imams stated that they are coping with hate crimes by encouraging Muslims to avoid some situations that could predispose them to hate crime, while counseling the victims to overcome the trauma.
Literature Review Analysis
The literature review indicates that hate crimes directed at Muslims are increasingly becoming a global issue. Although hate crimes emanated from the terrorist attacks like the one that happened in September 11, 2001, they have spread across the world by influencing beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that people hold about terrorism and Muslims (Anti-Defamation League, 2014). The experiences of students and imams regarding hate crimes effectively depict Islamophobic acts. Islamophobia reports examine different Islamophobic acts, which constitute hate crimes, human rights violations, and counterterrorism policy. Analysis of different hate crimes in the literature shows that perpetrators of hate crimes commit these crimes because of the beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes that they hold about Muslims, Islam, and terrorism (Kundnani 2014). Common forms of hate crimes or harassment, assaults, threats, discrimination in workplaces, restriction of dressing code, termination of employment, restriction of worship, and the destruction of mosques among other hate crimes.
Hate crimes usually happen in various social platforms, where people interact. According to Council on American-Islamic Relations (2010), private sector, public sector, and the media are platforms in which hate crimes occur. For example, when Muslims wanted to build a mosque, a swimming pool, and a school, they experienced hate crimes as residents of Murfreesboro protested that they do not want terrorists in their neighborhood and they carried placards stating “Keep Tennessee Terror Free” yet they have lived in Murfreesboro for over 30 years (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2010, p. 26). Such acts constitute hate crimes, which depict Muslims as terrorists even in their own neighborhood where they live. Although the residents have lived with Muslims for a period of over three decades, they still perceive them as terrorists. This means that beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes that they harbor are entrenched in their minds and affect their perceptions. According to Kundnani (2014), “anti-extremism industry spread propaganda and stereotypes, which depict Muslims as terrorists and thus make them prone to hate crimes” (p. 22). In this view, the ideology of hate crimes lies in the beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that non-Muslims hold about Muslims and terrorism.
Islamophobia does not only happen in private circles, but also they do occur in the public arena. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2006) states that Muslims are no longer safe in public places because negative attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions have infiltrated into the public arena and created Islamophobes, who perpetrate hate crimes. As a public figure, Allan West, an elected congressman stated that, “Islam is a totalitarian theocratic political ideology” (Council on American-Islamic Relations, 2010, p. 28). Such statement implies that the United States should restrict the spread of Islam because it is an ideology that threatens democracy. Kundnani (2014) argues that counter-radicalization strategies in the United States and the United Kingdom are counterproductive because they promote hate crimes against Muslims, which in turn create enmity between Muslims and non-Muslims. Thus, counter-radicalization strategies are responsible for the hate crimes directed at Muslims.
The government also has contributed to the occurrence of hate crimes and violation of human rights. PATRIOT Act forms the basis of hate crimes because it provides a framework for other policies and legislations (Muslim Public Affairs Council, 2014). Under the hands of law enforcement agencies, government violates human rights of Muslims. The law enforcement agencies perform random searches and haphazard arrest of Muslims as suspected terrorists (Love, 2009). Moreover, since the Congress is an arm of the government, it contributes to the occurrence of hate crimes and violation of human rights. Council on American-Islamic Relations (2012) state that the Congress has attempted to pass 78 bills that has anti-Muslim legislations. The introduction of these bills to the Congress indicates that Islamophobes within and out of the government conspire to discriminate against Muslims. Moreover, Council on American-Islamic Relations (2012) states that the United States has 37 groups, which have the responsibility of spreading anti-Islamic sentiments and they have used about 120 million dollars in promoting prejudice and hate crimes against Muslims both in and out of government.
To eliminate hate crimes or minimize their occurrence, the study recommends that the law enforcement agencies should be impartial in handling cases of hate crimes and should punish perpetrators accordingly. Since the media contributes to the occurrence of hate crimes, the study recommend that it should avoid creating stereotypes, which associate Muslims with terrorism and terrorists, but instead it should aid them in demystifying stereotypes. Furthermore, the study recommends that the fight against terrorism should be a collective responsibility of everyone, including Muslims, to demystify the attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions that people hold against Muslims.
Hate crimes against Muslims emanate from terrorist activities such as the one of September 11, 2001. Analysis of hate crime incidences indicates that perpetrators hold negative beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which influence their perceptions of Muslims, Islam, and terrorism. These beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions originate from the campaigns of Islamophobes on the media. Through the media, organized groups of Islamophobes convince the general population that Muslims are potential terrorists and their religion aims to gain political dominance. The responses of the victims and imams clearly indicate that perpetrators of hate crimes harbor negative beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, which paint Muslims as bad people and thus they deserve hate crimes. The Islamophobia reports also indicate how Islamophobes have created stereotypes and spread them with a view of distorting the image of Muslims and Islam. Examination of cases of Islamophobic acts in the reports depicts that they emanate from mere beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions that people hold. Since hate crime is a global issue, the best way to eliminate it is to punish the offenders, make anti-terrorism a collective responsibility, and demystify stereotypes against Muslims.
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