SAALT’s End of Year Hate Report: Attacks on elderly Sikh men continue, mosques vandalized, and hijabs ripped off Muslim women
The last three months of 2019 were plagued by a series of hate incidents. Anti-semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey are on the rise, with police reporting an increase in 20 percent as compared to 2018. An attacker killed five people in a Hasidic rabbi’s home in Monsey, NY while they were celebrating Hanukkah. Earlier in December, two shooters opened fire at a kosher market in Jersey City, killing 6 people. And, from October through the end of December, SAALT tracked 14 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim.
- On October 6th, three Muslim women wearing hijabs were attacked by a 50 year old man in Little Italy in San Diego. Police said the man shoved one woman, slapped another woman, then tried to remove the hijab off of one of the women’s heads, and made a racist remark.
- On October 15th, a 17 year old Syrian teen was attacked on a San Francisco trolley. The attacker asked the boy if he was Mexican, and when the teen replied “No, I’m Arab,” the attacker started to beat him.
- On October 19th, a woman shouted “Go back to your country” at a woman wearing a hijab in a TJ Maxx in Brooklyn. She was later caught on video attacking the Muslim woman’s husband and saying “I’m going to f@$% you up.”
- On October 27th, a man working for DoorDash says he was punched and told to go back to his country after making a Sunday morning delivery to a home near Lake Minnetonka.
- A series of hate incidents including racist graffitti and the sharing of the Christchurch shooter’s white supremacist manifesto plagued Syracuse University in November, sparking mass student protests across campus.
- On November 10th, an attacker struck Masjid Salaam in Minnesota in the middle of the night, and shattered a glass door.
- On November 12th, a 23 year old woman in Portland ripped the hijab off of a 24 year old exchange student from Saudi Arabia at a transit stop. The attacker allegedly tried to choke her with the hijab and rubbed it all over the young woman’s body. The attacker has been charged with hate crimes.
- On November 12th, a report emerged that detailed a Facebook group that had been targeting Safiya Khalid, a young Somali-American who was recently elected to the Lewiston city council in Maine. The facebook group spread racist and anti-Muslim speech online, calling Khalid a “shitbag muslim” who wears a “head diaper;” another advocated “killing as many muslims as possible.”
- On November 14th, a young white male entered the Downtown Denver Islamic Center and threatened four people with what appeared to be an assault rifle.
- On December 5th, a Sikh man in Bellingham, Washington, who was driving an Uber, was attacked by a passenger. The passenger grabbed the Sikh man, choked him, and made comments about his dark skin and turban. Bellingham is also where one of the first anti-South Asian riots by a white mob of nearly 400 men occurred in the U.S. in 1907.
- On December 10th, a man set fire to a trash can just outside a mosque in the Bronx right after placing a banner that was hanging on the mosque on top of the trash can.
- On December 15th, a 57 year old Sikh man was parking his car by his home in Richmond, California, when a man came up and asked him for a lighter and money, and then attacked him with a barbecue lid. His daughter said she found him with his turban off and blood all over his face.
- On December 19th, local police recieved reports that an anti-Muslim flyer that said Islam permits throwing acid on women’s faces, was placed on a car in an Atlanta suburb.
- On December 21st, a worshipper at the Darul Iman mosque in St Paul, Minnesota, says that they came across a person who appeared to be stealing laptops at the mosque. The suspect ran off, but worshippers later found writing on the mosque white boards including “Merry Xmas” and references to Jesus and God.
Whether its from advisors at the White House or officials at the local level, xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric continues to find a home either in different platforms including social media, news media outlets, or events and conferences. SAALT tracked six incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric from October to the end of December:
- On October 9th, the SPLC reported that President Trump would be sharing the stage with known Islamophobic speakers at the Values Voters Summit.
- On October 18th, the Palm Beach Post reported the Center for Security Policy — an organization founded by Frank Gaffney, who was once suggested Obama was a Muslim and that Sharia law threatens American society, scheduled a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago.
- On November 13th, the Washington Post reported on the analysis of over 900 emails that senior White House advisor Stephen Miller sent to a writer at the conservative media outlet Breitbart, promoting white nationalist and anti-immigrant stories.
- On November 21st, reports revealed that San Luis Obispo County Planning Commissioner Jim Harrison posted a meme that said “America needs to shut down all Mosques and ban Islam. Bet you won’t repost this.” Harrison has since resigned.
- On December 6th, CNN dug into the past writings and media appearances of former conservative radio host and now Senior State Department advisor Frank Wuco and reported that he said “it would be tough for a ‘solid, practicing’ Muslim to be a good American and made unfounded claims that some Muslims in America were practicing Sharia law to create ‘Muslim land.’”
- On December 30th, reports revealed that ex-judician candidate was temporarily suspended from practicing law because of racist comments he made on social media including “never trust a Muslim.”
SAALT and its partners have tracked 304 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric since November 2015 and 542 inidents of hate since then targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim. As we enter an election year and on the eve of a possible expansion of the Muslim Ban, we are bracing for more violence toward our communities. We have seen how Islamophobic rhetoric is frequently weaponized during election cycles, and remain committed to tracking it, holding individuals and institutions accountable, and fighting for stronger legislation like the Jabara Heyer NO HATE Act.