SAALT report

Protesters carried signs during a march on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Times Square, called Rally Against Racism, in New York Jan. 15. A recent SAALT report documents the rise in hate violence against Indian Americans and other South Asians since Donald Trump became president. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House has triggered an unprecedented level of violence against Indian Americans, other South Asians and those from the Middle East, summated the organization South Asian Americans Leading Together in a report released Feb. 1.

The report, “Communities on Fire,” documents hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at minority communities from Election Day 2016 to Election Day 2017.

SAALT documented 302 incidents of hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at South Asian Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, and Arab communities in the U.S. About 82 percent of the incidents were motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

The 302 incidents are a more than 45 percent increase from the year leading up to the 2016 election cycle, levels not seen since the year after Sept. 11, said SAALT.

“The uptick in anti-Muslim attacks runs parallel to the surge in this administration’s anti-Muslim policies and rhetoric,” noted the organization in a press statement.

Of the 213 incidents of hate violence documented, one in five perpetrators invoked President Trump's name, his administration's policies, or his campaign slogans during attacks, reported SAALT.

“Our nation prides itself on the freedom for people of all religious traditions to practice their faith without fear or intimidation,” said Suman Raghunathan, Indian American executive director of SAALT.

“However, through its policies and rhetoric, this administration’s incessant demonization of Islam has created an environment of hate and fear-mongering for Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim.”

“Deadly shootings, torched mosques, vandalized homes and businesses, and young people harassed at school have animated an acutely violent post-election year. This administration must break eye contact with white supremacy if our nation is to live up to its highest ideals of religious freedom,” stated Raghunathan.

Women who identify or are perceived as South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern, or Arab were the targets of attack in 28 percent of the 213 documented hate incidents post-election.

Women who wear hijab or head scarves are particularly vulnerable, accounting for 63 percent of the documented hate incidents targeting women.

“The growth of white supremacist hate groups and mounting attacks on our communities are proof positive that this administration’s anti-Muslim agenda is not making America great, it’s making Americans afraid,” Raghunathan said. “The daily decay of our democracy can only be repaired by dignity and full inclusion for all Americans, regardless of faith, race, or national origin. SAALT and our allies are going to go the distance to see this demand realized.”

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