A report by the Georgetown University Research Project looks at the trends and patterns of anti-Islamism that have become apparent during the 2016 presidential election cycle. The authors of the study looked at two time periods; January through December 2015 (i.e. calendar 2015) and March 2015 (the month that Ted Cruz formally announced his candidacy for president which started the 2016 election cycle) through March 2016, the core of the current election cycle thus far. They looked at the following types of Islamophobia as reported by both local and national news media, keeping in mind that many incidents are obviously not reported to law enforcement:
1.) murders and physical attacks against Muslims or those who were perceived to be Muslims.
2.) verbal or written assaults, harassment or threats either in-person, in writing, by telephone or through social media.
3.) vandalism or destruction of property that has a perceived affiliation with Islam.
4.) arson against property that has a perceived affiliation with Islam.
5.) shootings and bombings targeting Muslims or their homes and institutions that do not result in death.
6.) demonstrations that took place outside of mosques where there was a threat of violence.
7.) verbal and written incitement to violence against Islam in general.
The study also looked at Islamophobic political rhetoric including the following types of statements:
1.) generalizations that make a simplified statement about Muslims or Islam based on the actions of a few.
2.) misattributions that suggest that actions carried out by Muslims are due to a link to their faith.
3.) reductionism where Muslim diversity is reduced to a single issue like Sharia or jihad.
4.) blatant prejudice.
Here is a summary of their findings starting with calendar 2015, followed by the period between March 2015 and March 2016.
1.) Calendar 2015: Over the course of calendar 2015, there were approximately 174 incidents of anti-Muslim violence and vandalism, up from 154 in 2014. These incidents included 12 murders, 29 physical assaults, 50 threats against Islamic persons or institutions, 54 acts of vandalism or destruction of property, 8 arsons and 9 shooting or bombings. In 2015, American Muslims were 6 to 9 times more likely to suffer these types of attacks than they were before 9/11. Muslim men were twice as likely to be victims of physical assaults and 5 to 6 times more likely to be victims of murder than American Muslim women.
2.) March 2015 to March 2016: Over this 12 month period since the first candidate formally announced his bid for presidency there have been approximately 180 incidents of anti-Muslim violence. These incidents included 12 murders, 34 physical assaults, 49 verbal assaults or threats against Islamic persons or institutions, 56 acts or vandalism or destruction of property, 9 arsons and 9 shootings and bombings. Muslim men were twice as likely to be victims of physical assaults and 11 times more likely to be victims of murder than American Muslim women.
In both time periods, Muslim murder victims were most likely between the ages of 18 and 24.
During the period from March 2015 to March 2016, the first surge of anti-Muslim political rhetoric began in September 2015, coincident with the deepening of the Syrian refugee crisis. During September 2015 alone, there were 10 incidents or threats of violence which included 3 murders. Following the San Bernardino attacks in December 2015, there was another surge of anti-Islamic violence with 53 total attacks during that month or nearly one-third of the total for the entire 12 month period including 17 which targeted mosques and Islamic schools compared to only 2 such attacks during February 2015, prior to the official start of the presidential election cycle.
Let's wrap up this posting with a look at a few key comments made by various presidential candidates during the period from March 2015 to March 2016:
1.) Ted Cruz:
On December 10, 2015 while speaking at the Heritage Foundation, Ted Cruz criticized U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s remarks about the need to crack down on anti-Muslim discrimination. Despite the fact that anti-Muslim attacks jumped in November and December 2015, Cruz dismissed Lynch’s assessment and implied that acknowledging the reality of Islamophobia is dangerous.
Again, on December 10, 2015 during an interview with the Daily Signal, Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz states, “I don't think we should be indiscriminately closing mosques, but I also don't think we should be blind to the fact that there have been mosques that have been a nexus for promoting jihad, and we need to use all of the tools of national security and law enforcement to stop any jihadist from murdering Americans.”
2.) Marco Rubio:
On October 5, 2015 during a campaign event in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Republican Presidential hopeful Marco Rubio stated, “What President Obama is proposing to do, bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslims to America, is nothing short of crazy... It would be the height of foolishness to bring in tens of thousands of people, including jihadists who are coming here to murder innocent Americans ...With respect to the refugees, it is a humanitarian crisis, but they ought to be settled in the Middle East, in majority Muslim countries.”
On February 3, 2016 during a campaign event in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio criticized President Obama’s mosque visit stating, “... he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims. Of course there’s discrimination in America, of every kind. But the bigger issue is: radical Islam. And by the way, radical Islam poses a threat to Muslims themselves.”
Oddly enough, Americans were not all that happy with Communism and Communists in the 1950s and 1960s, the timeframe when Marco Rubio's maternal grandfather was ordered deported as an undocumented Cuban migrant.
3.) Ben Carson:
On October 9, 2015 in Washington, D.C., Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson questions loyalties of American Muslims during a discussion on constitutional liberties at the National Press Club.
On December 13, 2015 during an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson called for scrutiny of all Muslims entering and living in the U.S. He cited an alleged Muslim strategy to destroy Western civilization from within.
4.) Donald Trump:
On October 22, 2015 during an appearance on Fox Business Network, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump responded to a question about whether he would close mosques as part of his counter-terrorism strategy by stating, “I would do that, absolutely.”
On November 16, 2015 in an MSNBC interview, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump stated that he would “strongly consider” closing mosques as part of his counter- terrorism strategy. He stated, “Well, I would hate to do it but it's something you're going to have to strongly consider. Some of the absolute hatred is coming from these areas ...The hatred is incredible. It's embedded. The hatred is beyond belief. The hatred is greater than anybody understands.”
5.) Mike Huckabee:
On November 17, 2015 in an interview with MSNBC, former Governor and Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee stated that he could not think of any group other than Muslims who harm innocent civilians. He explained, therefore, that discriminatory anti-Muslim policies were justified.
6.) Jeb Bush:
On January 28, 2016 during the GOP debate, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush responds to a question from Muslim fashion vlogger, Nabeela Noor, about the rising climate of hatred and violence confronting American Muslims. Bush responded, “Nabela’s a rising entrepreneur. She wants to pursue the American dream. She’s an American citizen. She should not feel uncomfortable about her citizenship. She’s not the threat. The threat is Islamic terrorism. We need to focus our energies there, not these broad-blanket kind of statements that will make it harder for us to deal with it.”
While the report from Georgetown University has obviously not captured the myriad of unreported cases of anti-Islamic behaviour, it is interesting to see how the political leadership of the United States is playing right into the hands of the anti-Muslim movement. It is also interesting to note that the current Islamophobia in America it is playing right into the hands of those who are attempting to form an Islamic Caliphate as shown in this excerpt from ISIS' online magazine, Dabiq:
""The Muslims in the West will quickly find themselves between one of two choices, they either apostasize and adopt the kufrī religion (i.e. non-Islamic religions including Christianity and Judaism) propagated by Bush, Obama, Blair, Cameron, Sarkozy, and Hollande in the name of Islam so as to live amongst the kuffār (a derogatory term referring to non-Muslims i.e kafir) without hardship, or they perform hijrah to the Islamic State and thereby escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens....Muslims in the crusader countries will find themselves driven to abandon their homes for a place to live in the Khilāfah, as the crusaders increase persecution against Muslims living in Western lands so as to force them into a tolerable sect of apostasy in the name of “Islam” before forcing them into blatant Christianity and democracy. " (my explanation in non-italics and my bold)
By listening to those who lead us who are lumping all Muslims into the terrorist mold, we may well be forcing millions of American Muslims to choose between their faith and their nation. That is the Islamic State's dream come true.