It is deeply disturbing that hate crimes against American Muslims are at their highest levels since the grim aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. It is important that leading politicians and opinion-formers speak up about this disgusting trend and motivate public opinion to back America’s traditional focus on tolerance and respect for the rights of peaceful individuals. Research from the California State University has revealed that hate crimes against Muslims went up 78 per cent during 2015 and attacks on those perceived as Arab rose even more sharply. These include hundreds of attacks, including arson at mosques, assaults, shootings and threats of violence and it is very worrying that this phenomenon does not look like reducing any time soon.
Some of the attacks are due to a violent backlash against the series of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States that began early last year and that gross misunderstanding needs to be dealt with. But another important contributing factor has been the dangerous rhetoric from the Republican campaign in the race to be the next US president. Donald Trump’s intemperate and offensive remarks about Muslims have greatly inflamed the situation, as he has called for a ban on immigration by Muslims and a national register of all Muslims in the US. In addition, his gratuitous comments hinting at his willingness to countenance the use of violence against public figures have combined to bring such vile comments into the public arena when they should be outlawed. The presidential campaign debate should never have been dragged into the mire as it has been by Trump.