Hate crimes against Muslims in California skyrocket 122%, study says

Police tape marks off the burned front lobby of the Islamic Center of Palm Springs in Coachella on Dec. 12.
(David Martin / Associated Press)

Anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in California rose 122% between 2014 and 2015, according to a recent analysis by Cal State San Bernardino researchers.

The report by the Cal State San Bernardino Center on Hate & Extremism found that 18 anti-Muslim crimes were reported in California in 2014, while 40 anti-Muslim crimes were reported last year.

The increase followed what appeared to be a national surge in anti-Muslim crimes that further accelerated after the San Bernardino terror attack in December 2015, and a call by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to bar Muslims from entering the U.S., according to researchers.


“After the San Bernardino attack, we saw a marked jump in hate crimes against Muslims within several days,” said Brian Levin, executive director of the Cal State center. Among those incidents was an arson attack on a mosque in Riverside County days after the San Bernardino killings.

The report’s conclusions were based on hate crime data from 20 states. Although many states have yet to make public their own crime data, the jurisdictions included in the report account for more than half of the nation’s population, according to study authors.

In 2014, those 20 states reported 110 hate crimes against Muslims, compared with 196 in 2015 — a 78% increase.

After Trump’s declaration on Dec. 7, 2015, that Muslims should be banned from entering in the U.S., researchers documented an 87.5% jump in acts of hate against that community in the five days that followed his remarks, compared with the same period the year before.

Dr. Kevin Grisham, the center’s assistant director for research, said, “The study shows statements by political leaders can be followed by distinct changes in hate crime incidents.”

Overall hate crimes climbed a little more than 5% from 4,139 to 4,347 in the 20 states included in the study. By comparison, California saw a 10% increase, with 758 hate crimes reported in 2014 and 837 reported in 2015, according to the study’s authors.

California’s disproportionate representation in overall hate crimes might be explained by better reporting, Levin said. Hate crimes in some states are vastly underreported, he said.

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