Why anti-Muslim hate statistics don’t tell the full story

Published: April 23, 2016
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

The writer is counsel to KSM Law, an associate professor at Valparaiso University Law School in Indiana and an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. He tweets @faisalkutty
PHOTO: REUTERS

The number of police-reported hate crimes against Muslim-Canadians more than doubled over a three-year period (2012 to 2014), according to figures released by Statistics Canada earlier this month. Meanwhile in the US, various groups, including the FBI, have documented an eight-fold increase in hate crime since 2000. As alarming as these figures are, they don’t tell the full story. As Professor Juan Cole notes: “The FBI depends on local police departments to report hate crimes, who in turn depend on victims to report them in the bulk of cases.” The same is the case in Canada. Moreover, in the case of both countries, the entire country is not even covered.

Indeed, many incidents are not reported because too many believe that nothing will come of it. Moreover, even when reported, there is growing anecdotal evidence to suggest that reports are not being taken seriously by some authorities or are classified as other than hate. In some cases, opposition to mosque construction is brushed off as traffic or zoning concerns and profiling on flights are merely “flight safety issues”. A recent case in point is the story of University of California, Berkeley senior, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, who was evicted from an Oakland-bound Southwest flight after he was overheard uttering “Inshallah” by a co-passenger.

In fact, I am still waiting to hear about a complaint I made last month on Good Friday (March 25). I found myself at a mosque on the outskirts of Toronto, the Pickering Islamic Center for my Friday prayers and came face to face with a bigot. The Center was overflowing and some of us had to pray in the atrium and even outside. People kept streaming into the parking lot even as the prayers got underway. As we strained to hear the prayers, a bigot was getting his jollies pulling up behind cars waiting to turn into the parking lot and honking non-stop. He was clearly harassing and intimidating worshippers. He honked continuously for the duration of the prayer. As I left the mosque, a group of worshippers were gesturing to him to go around the vehicles. He ignored everyone and continued pulling up behind cars and honking. I tapped on his window to get his attention, at which point he stepped out of his car and said, “If you touch my car again, I will kill you.” I responded, “Go ahead,” knowing full well that given his size, I was a dead man if he carried out his threat. Fearing the worst, others moved in to back me up so he quickly climbed back in his car and resumed honking. He was also videotaping us.

Nobody got hurt and in the scheme of things, this was a not a very serious incident. Nevertheless there are a few observations worth noting. Anti-Muslim hate has been mainstreamed. Demonisation of Muslims has a long history in Western politics and popular culture but many saw it for what it was: caricaturing. A discourse initially fuelled by a well-funded network of professional merchants of hate on the fringe, then infected a small segment of the Republican party in the US and Harperites in Canada, but has now reached heights never before imagined by many. Donald Trump’s proposal to ban and register Muslims, and Ted Cruz’s calls to patrol Muslim neighbourhoods all pass for debatable policy. All three of these proposals have significant support (around 50 per cent) of Americans. The situation was not much different under former Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper when the anti-niqab rhetoric and calls to ban barbaric cultural practices (code for Muslim practices) were central election issues.

With increasing legitimacy of Islamophobia and its new status, in some circles, as the only socially acceptable form of hate, bigots are now bolder. The honker was not daunted by the hundreds of congregants nor by the fact that the police station was literally down the road. Moreover, even when the police eventually showed up, he had no care. As some of us spoke to one officer, he stood around confidently joking around with two other officers. From the officer’s line of questioning, it appeared he had told the officers that he was simply upset with cars blocking his way. I pointed out that he had a choice of two other lanes to use besides the right-most lane in use by mosque patrons turning into the parking lot. Moreover, the officer was also told by others that he had been circling from 1.30 pm to about 2.20 pm or so when the police eventually showed up.

I gave the officer a piece of my mind for not showing up fast enough given that the mosque was previously attacked (with a pellet gun) and the station was just a few hundred feet away, and then gave him my version and left him my contact details. I can’t help but imagine the reaction had a Muslim done this at church on Sunday. Others who noticed him joking around with cops, simply dismissed it as him chatting with his friends on the force. This line of thinking along with how the incident was swept away are what discourage people from reporting hate incidents.

I have yet to receive a call from the officer or anyone for that matter despite following up. I also did not receive any response after I tweeted my Facebook post on the incident to the Durham Regional Police. To his credit, Mayor David Ryan of Pickering, did offer an apology on Facebook. Interestingly, two Muslim police officers who saw my post insisted that I must make sure the police take this seriously. In the words of one of them, “there are too many such incidents taking place without any consequences for the perpetrators and no proper documentation.”

If an incident witnessed by dozens and reported by among others an activist lawyer/professor is not taken seriously, then I can just imagine how many hate incidents are never followed up on or are documented as hate, as opposed to a parking squabble or other such classification.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 24th, 2016.

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Reader Comments (44)

  • numbersnumbers
    Apr 24, 2016 - 1:04AM

    The author should travel to Pakistan, go to a large market in a major city and loudly proclaim himself to be an Ahmadi (after he has put his affairs in order and deposited a will!) so he could experience “hate”!Recommend

  • Apr 24, 2016 - 1:15AM

    As unfortunate as it is, Indian Hindus are most happy and put fire on oil in islamophobia.Recommend

  • Ajeet
    Apr 24, 2016 - 2:27AM

    Good to see that the fight back has begunRecommend

  • leela4fun
    Apr 24, 2016 - 2:35AM

    Another attempt at playing victimhood card. Let us see muslims being magnanimous and not have azaan calls at full volume when people are still sleeping! What you endured was one guy honking for a day. Most of us have to endure this everyday.Recommend

  • Great Warrior
    Apr 24, 2016 - 5:40AM

    Dude, atleast they do not kill women and kids on easter in such barbaric way. Are you reading news.. sorry no time for this..world is suffering more First teach people in your native country how to treat other religions. Learn to respect humanbeings as human beings and I think that is the biggest problem with Islamic nations who have trouble understanding that religion cannot be bought into public space or in forming a nation. Sorry I cannot support and think the man in the car was right as he was blocked!! You need to grow up dude!!Recommend

  • pk
    Apr 24, 2016 - 7:20AM

    I don’t think any immediate solution. Not a single Islamic country is secular out of 50 and give equal right to non Muslim. If they have any strength to fight they must go to their country of origin and demand equality for all. Recommend

  • Ravi Indian
    Apr 24, 2016 - 8:34AM

    Playing the victim card. You go to the west and want everyone to conform to your beliefs. Why block one lane of the road..isn’t that against law….also praying and shouting in name of prayer is ok and all residents should tolerate that whether they like it or not but honking while prayers are going on is not…isn’t that being hypocritical?Recommend

  • Al Furqan
    Apr 24, 2016 - 9:30AM

    OK, Folks.

    From now on anyone trying to use a Parking lot for parking his car is guilty of hate crime.

    And for people shooting a Christmas Party or a Easter gathering it is all love and peace.

    Get a life Bro.Recommend

  • Al Furqan
    Apr 24, 2016 - 10:16AM

    In my humble opinion,

    A. A car park is a public space meant for parking cars.

    B. A Mosque on the other hand is a space for ‘Private’ beliefs and practices.

    C. A natural corollary would be that those who PARK their cars in a Mosque or PRAY in a car park are in the wrong.

    Apparently, the author believes otherwise.
    I am sure this is a tongue in cheek joke,
    Right??Recommend

  • Johnny James
    Apr 24, 2016 - 10:27AM

    Just because you are praying does not mean you create a nuisance to others…public demonstration of hyper-religiosity is often not appreciated by the westerners…Recommend

  • Tyggar
    Apr 24, 2016 - 11:08AM

    Those who think discrimination against non Muslims is their Allah given right, have no right to point fingers at othersRecommend

  • Mata
    Apr 24, 2016 - 11:43AM

    @leela4fun:
    @Great Warrior:
    @numbersnumbers:

    This is called shooting the messenger.

    It does not matter what happens in their home countries, it matters what is happening now and if it is right or wrong.

    Or should we start telling the west to stop encouraging women’s rights until they have free abortion? Recommend

  • Toti calling
    Apr 24, 2016 - 11:46AM

    There is some truth in what the author is saying, but it is still not as bad to discourage Muslims to want to come to Canada to settle or holidays, In fact millions are crossing waters to enter Europe by hook or crook. One of the reason why Islamophobía is gaining strength is that we see hardly any ;Muslims who stand up and say that they do not support JIhad or equal rights for women or make friends with non Muslims in Canada or elsewhere. They condemn the killings but do not distance themselves from the conservative attitudes. We Muslims have to stand up and agree to accept the constitution of the country they live and make friends with local population. Recommend

  • Human
    Apr 24, 2016 - 11:53AM

    Brilliantly put together and hits the nail on the head. The Islamophobs have taken this too far. Some IS group emerges out of nowhere, accumulates billions of dollars in wealth, sets up an army, controls oil fields and creates havoc in Muslim countries with occasional hits in Europe for credibility sake. Hogwash. Recommend

  • Sad citizen of Pakistan
    Apr 24, 2016 - 12:32PM

    What goes around, comes around. You are complaining about what is happening in Canada and US. Put yourself in the shoes of Ahmedis in Pakistan and you will realize what you had to go through is actually nothing!Recommend

  • bharat
    Apr 24, 2016 - 12:59PM

    Before you complain again, please reflect on the fact the hindu population in Pakistan used to constitute at ,least 25% of the total , and now are down to less then 1%
    reflect too on how the courts dealt with the kidnapping of young hindu girls
    reflect on what happened to the Christians as wellRecommend

  • rich
    Apr 24, 2016 - 1:20PM

    but why block even one lane?

    in the west when u pray u do not block even a single lane like in asia

    so he was right, keep the road totally open so no one has an excuse to honkRecommend

  • Tyggar
    Apr 24, 2016 - 1:53PM

    Muslims are self obsessed. They cannot see the nuisance they create to othersRecommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 24, 2016 - 2:17PM

    In the ‘ west ‘ its a two way street….you respect me and I’ll respect you.
    When Muslims decided that its important to aggressively ‘ wear their religion on their sleeve ‘ and then take shelter under ‘ western ‘ laws…..then they must expect the ‘ west ‘ to fight back, after all its their country, their culture and society and they have a right to defend it.Recommend

  • Np
    Apr 24, 2016 - 2:29PM

    @Mata:
    What is happening is indeed wrong. Blocking a lane of traffic because you are praying is wrong. Protesting against that by honking is not wrong.
    Your victim card has stopped working. Stop crying wolf alreadyRecommend

  • Zubair Khan
    Apr 24, 2016 - 3:50PM

    Looks more one sided story. For prayers public places are not to be used. In case you create hurdles for neighbours or passersby you are violating real teachings of Islam. Canadians are very supportive and openhearted towards Islam. Try to mend your ways and follow the real teachings of Islam every thing will be ok.Recommend

  • Saleem Malik
    Apr 24, 2016 - 4:44PM

    I am a Sunni Muslim from Pakistan and have lived all my life as such. Most of the Muslims, including the person who wrote this article, are the most hypocrite, racist, and impatient people. If we want mosques and prayers in car parks, we should stay in our own countries. We stand in long queues looking for Western visas, earn thousands of dollars in their countries, our children enjoy the best lives, and at the same time we don’t integrate, build mosques, don’t leave our ancient ways of life. Islamophobia is justified in this situation. We do the same stuff to non Sunni people in our countries and we all know it. We should all change or go back. That guy was right in honking, and if it was other way around, a Sunni most probably would have run people over.Recommend

  • Unpalatable Truth, Chicago
    Apr 24, 2016 - 5:19PM

    If Muslims think they are victims, why do they keep running away from Muslim countries and then keep becoming statistics. Define Islamophobia – When World stopped being fooled by the victimization cry of Muslims. There are people with so many religions specially Sikhs in Canada who also wear Turbans etc., but never has this community become a burden on the host country where ever they go. And have you ever seen a Muslim group coming out and protested against Jihad, terrorist attacks etc. And why the statistics only shows majority terrorist attacks around world have Islamic followers. Is this a coincidence? And imagine being an Ahmadi in Pakistan and the amount of hate and insecurity this human being would have to live (die) with.Recommend

  • Rex Major
    Apr 24, 2016 - 5:27PM

    Pakistan was created on the premise of the “two nation theory” – that Muslims cannot live under a non-Muslim majority.
    Pakistani Muslims in Canada seem to carry the seed of the “t-n-t” in them. For an outsider it could be of interest (amusing) to watch the drama unfold.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Apr 24, 2016 - 6:28PM

    The tone of this report gives me the impression that the author needs psychiatric help. In fact he appears to be mentally retarded.
    Why is he not addressing a similar problem in his own back garden? I ask him are Ahmadis, Christians, Hisndus, Sikhs safe in Pakistan?
    Fix your own problem and then lecture others. I suggest you go back to a proper school and learn respect. Going back to a madrassa will only brainwash you further.Recommend

  • Adam Kirefu
    Apr 24, 2016 - 6:32PM

    It seems like literacy is a serious problem for many commenting here. The author did not say they were praying in the road or blocking any lane for prayer. The hate monger was circling around and harassing people waiting to turn into the parking lot. Also, nobody was praying in the parking lot or in public. Even if they were praying in the parking, it is private property anyways. Cannot compare a free democratic nation with the dysfunctional Muslim world. The only points being made is that the number of incidents is not accurate and that there have been significant increases. Reading some comments leaves the impression that the writer was saying the west was worse or that Muslims are better. Perhaps some reading lessons may help.Recommend

  • Weirdity
    Apr 24, 2016 - 7:29PM

    Ok. So any lanes which happen to be closest to a mosque will be commandeered by the faithful. Any concerned citizen has no right to complain about it. If he does, its “Islamophobia” or “hate crime”. With this kind of mindset, no wonder there is so much “islamophobia”. Recommend

  • Weirdity
    Apr 24, 2016 - 7:33PM

    The author is a lawyer who appears to condone law breaking in the name of religion.Recommend

  • Weirdity
    Apr 24, 2016 - 7:36PM

    Readers don’t seem to realize that the author is an indian muslim. :-)Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Apr 24, 2016 - 8:06PM

    @Zubair Khan:
    Your comments make the point even without referring to the so called teachings of Islam. One does not require Islam in canada but simply the will and the endurance to survive in the lumber jack country of thirty five million people.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Raman Sehgal
    Apr 24, 2016 - 9:05PM

    Ever wondered y non-muslims hate muslims? any serious analysis?Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Apr 24, 2016 - 9:21PM

    What author or other Muslims have done to assimilate with Canadian society? Why Muslims are not happy living in best country of the world? Recommend

  • Khan
    Apr 24, 2016 - 11:48PM

    Lol lots of obsessive indian commenting on another religious post. Got to show that you have nothing to do in life. Keep hating, live in slums as usual. Recommend

  • Ejaaz
    Apr 25, 2016 - 1:36AM

    Faisal Kutty can stand up to a bigot in Canada. Faisal can tell the cop off for being late in Canada. Faisal can demand that the Muslims faith and beliefs be respected in Canada.

    Faisal Sahib, please name a single, just one, Muslim country where a non-Muslim can even dream of expecting such luxuries? Have you ever asked any Muslim Organisation let alone a Muslim Government to accord their nonmuslims respect as fellow humans? Recommend

  • Barry
    Apr 25, 2016 - 3:02AM

    Last week the Belgian PM announced that Islamic culture itself is a problem.
    He said this because of the rejoicing that took place in the Muslim Nighbourhoods in Belgium after the terrorist attack on their airport

    Did the author go to Brussels and condemn this in a very public way?Recommend

  • SaneVoice
    Apr 25, 2016 - 4:45AM

    Asking Hindus opinion on Muslims is like asking the cat to guard the milk. No wonder they are rejoicing over the Islamaphobia. But fact remains this is what the Kaafirs have always done and will always do. It is upto Muslims how they collectively fight it. Recommend

  • Sid
    Apr 25, 2016 - 6:17AM

    dear author. What makes Muslims go through this harassment and still seek citizenships to western countries ? Answer to that is going to be far more inconvenient then tolerating the harassment itself. Muslims want to go to western world and imply their way of living on others. You clearly do not think of other’s discomfort and expect everybody to think about your comfort. What did you expect public parking space to be ? extension to mosque ? It was a parking lot. Just because your pryer started it does not mean you can convert any ground you stand to your prayer ground. You need to respect the comfort of host country before expecting any comfort in return,Recommend

  • Np
    Apr 25, 2016 - 9:24AM

    @Adam Kirefu: yes a lane was blocked. Here is the specific sentence that makes it clear “From the officer’s line of questioning, it appeared he had told the officers that he was simply upset with cars blocking his way. I pointed out that he had a choice of two other lanes to use besides the right-most lane in use by mosque patrons turning into the parking lot. ”
    It is not those who pointed this out as being non-civic who have a problem with comprehension, but you who did not understand simple English.Recommend

  • Milind
    Apr 25, 2016 - 9:36AM

    @Ai – “As unfortunate as it is, Indian Hindus are most happy and put fire on oil in islamophobia.”

    Not just Indian Hindus, any non-Muslim who loves modernity, equality and fears regressive cults would be happy..Recommend

  • Hammurabi
    Apr 25, 2016 - 9:42AM

    Those who have lived in the west for many years would agree that Muslims used to pray in parks when the mosques were few.No one took exception to the prayers in public places.. Even the people used to admire that Muslims were kneeling down for prayers..Who has changed these reactions and perceptions?:the non -tolerant and bigoted views by the immigrants themselves. I agree with the comment”What goes around, comes around.Recommend

  • Apr 25, 2016 - 9:48AM

    @Rex Major:
    Good thing you, maybe, got your asylum in Germany?
    Even access to a computer. Now be good.
    Or it’s back to Afghanistan for you.Recommend

  • Rex Major
    Apr 25, 2016 - 12:16PM

    @Motiwala: @Rex Major:
    Good thing you, maybe, got your asylum in Germany?
    Even access to a computer. Now be good.
    Or it’s back to Afghanistan for you.

    Major – Minor is perhaps such a minute difference that the *- walas (Moti-, Rangoon- *– …) have difficulty recognizing it as such.
    Once again – dude you have a perception problem, what do you smoke?Recommend

  • Zubair Khan
    Apr 25, 2016 - 12:44PM

    @Rex Major:
    Cool. Adhere to subject matter. No personal attack please.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Apr 25, 2016 - 1:18PM

    @Ejaaz: Excellent comment……….what has been displayed is simple hypocrisy. Recommend

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