The FBI’s newly released hate crime statistics covering 2012 have once again thrown cold water on the tired narrative that American Muslims find themselves under siege from increasingly violent “Islamophobes.” The 2012 numbers reinforce the conclusion drawn by Islamist Watch’s previous analysis of post-9/11 (2002–11) FBI data: Muslims endure fewer hate crimes per capita than other prominent minorities. A closer look at the details:
- FBI-tabulated incidents of anti-Islamic hate crime fell from 157 in 2011 to 130 in 2012, a decrease of 17.2 percent. Incidents of hate crime spanning all victim groups dropped by only 6.8 percent, 6,222 to 5,796.
- Of the 1,099 incidents of hate crime motivated by religion in 2012, anti-Islamic ones constituted just 11.8 percent. Anti-Jewish crimes dominated the tally with 674 incidents, comprising 61.3 percent. This distribution saw little change from 2011.
- An estimated Muslim population of 2.85 million, based on Pew’s 2011 value and annual growth of 100,000, yields 4.6 anti-Islamic incidents per 100,000 Muslims in 2012, lower than the average rate of 6.0 per 100,000 for the prior decade. In comparison, the 674 anti-Jewish incidents among approximately 6.5 million Jews imply a rate of 10.4 per 100,000 in 2012, more than twice the Muslim figure. Homosexuals and bisexuals (1,111 incidents) experienced a per capita rate similar to that of Jews, while blacks (1,805 incidents) were targeted about as often as Muslims. This is in line with the 2002–11 results.
- Critics correctly note the poor quality of the 2012 report. Only 13,022 local agencies, representing 248,809,710 Americans, submitted data to the FBI in 2012, decreases of 10.7 and 13.0 percent, respectively, from 2011. Incompleteness issues likely contributed to the broad dip in FBI-collected hate crimes, but the fall in anti-Islamic incidents, 17.2 percent, was large enough that at least part of it should be real.
- Two lost their lives in anti-Islamic hate crimes last year, the first such fatalities to be recorded by the FBI. Ten people were killed in all classes of hate crime in 2012 and 74 from 2002 to 2011. The FBI tables contain insufficient information to identify precisely the anti-Islamic incidents that led to deaths, but one of the deceased may be Sunando Sen, a Hindu man pushed from a New York City subway platform by a mentally disturbed woman who later told police that she had believed him to be Muslim. Further investigation is required. It is clear which 2012 slayings the FBI wisely did not label as anti-Islamic: the murder of California Muslim Shaima Alawadi, which had been touted as a hate crime before her husband was charged, and the slaughter of six Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple, which some had tried to blame on misdirected “Islamophobia.”
Muslims are not uniquely victimized by hate crimes in the U.S., a fact that no amount of spin can erase. To most Americans, evidence of relatively low and gradually declining frequencies of bias crime is welcome news. However, it is a disaster for Islamists, who wish to employ hate crimes against Muslims as weapons to smear and silence opponents of jihad. In short, FBI statistics published on Thanksgiving week left American Islamists with one fewer reason to be thankful this year. And that, in turn, offers the rest of us one more cause for gratitude.