The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

SPLC Testifies About Rising Anti-Muslim Sentiment

By Booth Gunter on March 29, 2011 - 1:52 pm, Posted in Anti-Muslim, Hate Crime

Anti-Muslim bigotry is once again on the march, thanks in large part to hate groups like Stop Islamization of America, which helped gin up nationwide hysteria last year over a planned Islamic cultural center near the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Manhattan.

Since the controversy over the “ground zero mosque” erupted last May, we’ve seen a steady drumbeat of news accounts of hate crimes and bias incidents aimed at Muslims – too many to ignore. And U.S. Rep. Peter King’s Islamophobic hearings almost three weeks ago on the radicalization of Muslims in America didn’t help matters.

So the hearings that began today in the Senate, conducted by Sen. Dick Durbin, are a welcome development. Durbin, chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, announced last week that he would hold hearings “in response to the spike in anti-Muslim bigotry in the last year including Quran burnings, restrictions on mosque construction, hate crimes, hate speech and other forms of discrimination.”

SPLC President Richard Cohen today submitted testimony at Durbin’s invitation.

Although FBI hate crime statistics for 2010 won’t be released until next fall, it appears from our monitoring of news reports that those statistics will almost certainly show a spike in hate crimes against Muslims, the second such spike since 9/11.

We’ve compiled a list of 156 hate crimes and bias incidents since 9/11. About a third of those occurred within a year of the attacks of 2001. But they quickly declined and leveled off after President George W. Bush delivered a series of speeches in which he assured Americans that Muslims were not our enemies.

Now, these incidents are rising again. About one-fifth of the 156 incidents we recorded have occurred since May 2010.

That’s only one indicator of the toxic atmosphere. Another is the appearance in numerous state legislatures of bills to ban the use of Islamic Shariah law in our courts. This is, of course, nothing but a political stunt designed to pander to the growing anti-Muslim sentiment. There is absolutely no danger of Shariah law invading our courts.

Another indicator: Educators are reporting the harassment of Muslim students and attempts to limit the way Islamic history and culture are taught. In Staten Island, N.Y., for example, four high school students were charged with a hate crime in October after spending more than a year bullying a Muslim classmate, occasionally beating him and calling him a terrorist. The conservative American Textbook Council has complained that textbooks don’t highlight “Islamic challenges to global security,” and last September, the Texas Board of Education approved a resolution to require that the state’s textbooks pass the group’s litmus test and not cast Islam in a favorable light.

The point is, as we have seen repeatedly in recent years, words matter. It’s time, as Cohen wrote in his testimony, for our political leaders to speak out forcefully and unambiguously about this growing threat to Muslim-Americans.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “I think you need to agree that Islam was expansionist though, no? Spain? The Gates of Vienna? Sigismund in there somewhere. There is so much history I cannot keep it all straight, but said expansionism was eventually put an end to, and you cannot say that these excursions were defensive in nature.”

    Ah the Gates of Vienna- there is actually another “History of the monolithic endless Jihad” sites with that very name. I think it is hilarious because morons like that don’t even realize that there were thousands of Muslim who fought on the Polish side at that battle in 1683. Muslim Tatars were originally invited into Lithuania in the 15th century, and then remained living in Poland-Lithuania where they had full rights to build mosques(some of which still exist today; the community itself still exists as well), and there they formed the basis of Poland-Lithuania’s cavalry(distinguishing themselves against the Prussians at the battle of Grunwald, I might add).

    Anyhoo…Expansion has been justified in many ways, and naturally Muslim leaders found ways to justify doing what many others had done before. Typically the way Islam expanded is that the Caliph would grant the title of Ghazi(usually to Turks) to those who raided surrounding lands. Basically, if you were Muslim, your claims would be recognized over any territory you conquered. This benefited the Islamic world with expanded trade, but it also benefited the nomadic Turks who, like other steppe peoples who came before, typically raided civilized lands.

    Of course this system, along with the Mamluk slave-soldier system, led to the Seljuk Turks basically taking over the Islamic world despite pledging loyalty to the Caliph.

    The problem I have with sites like History of Jihad is that they constantly cherry-pick and distort history to create an image of one continuous monolithic Muslim attack on the rest of the world, when in fact wars between Muslim and non-Muslim states often happened for the same reason why they happened between Christian states. It’s no different from how anti-Semites will describe all of Jewish history through a lens where every action of a Jew or perceived-Jew is interpreted as an act toward furthering the overall Jewish conspiracy. For example, Communists who are non-Jews supposedly just believe in Communism. But Communists who were Jews allegedly didn’t believe at all, and were just using Communism to break down Christian states and what-not.

    These tactics are being applied to Muslims by sites like those. Some Islamic extremist makes some statement that seems to support their narrative, and his words are the gospel truth and “true Islam”(because only Islamophobes get to approve what is real Islam), but some other Muslim contradicts that and they say he is doing “Taqqiya”(without having any clue what that means). This is similar to how Jews who explain the Talmud are said to be lying, and it is claimed that the Talmud requires them to lie about the alleged secrets of their religion.

  • Louis Stouch

    Yes, one mans freedom fighter is another mans terrorist – just depends on where you are sitting. Good point on the Jews, very good.

    I think you need to agree that Islam was expansionist though, no? Spain? The Gates of Vienna? Sigismund in there somewhere. There is so much history I cannot keep it all straight, but said expansionism was eventually put an end to, and you cannot say that these excursions were defensive in nature.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    No Louis, History of Jihad is not an objective, scholarly site. I have had encounters with them before. One such article tried to claim that Ghengis Khan and the Mongols were great warriors against evil Islam, and that instead of conquering they were really defending themselves from Islamic expansion. This is pure idiocy. It is also hypocritical because as I stated before, Ghengis Khan was explicitly fighting a “holy war”, mandated by God(the sky god, that is).

    Because he was fighting against Islam, the morons writing the article whitewash the brutality of his conquests. Some estimate that Mongol conquest lead to the starvation of 30 million Chinese peasants. Then again, had the Mongols already converted to Islam before the invasion of China, I have NO doubt at all that History of Jihad would have pointed this out.

    The problem with sites like History of Jihad is their methodology:

    1. Find conflict between Muslim country and non-Muslim country.

    2. Claim Islam was the reason for the conflict, and the Muslims were of course always the aggressor, and they were always motivated by religion, not other factors. This is similar to how anti-semites will point out Jewish people in business, or in historical Communist movements, and suggest that they were involved not because of any personal belief or desire but because they were Jewish, and working for some larger conspiracy.

    3. Blame whatever destruction that occurred on the Muslim side, including body counts.

    You asked me for reliable, objective sources, which I provided. History of Jihad is not a reliable source, and I’m guessing that the CSPI is not either.

  • Louis Stouch

    Ruslan, you are affiliated with Loonwatch, no? I know that they link to SPLC, so it would make sense.

    Hey, religion is the root of all evil, quite clearly. (Refresh my memory please – when did God make the fossills?) Or at least it used to be. Christianity had its Reformation, as you noted. Perhaps given recent events in Pakistan over the koran burning, Islam needs its own.

    As to statistics on jihad, I direct you to the Center for the Study of Political Islam – google it.

    An even better is historyofjihad.org, where they break down the jihad by country. Fascinating, albeit bloody, stuff. I must say though that someone has hacked the site as of late – I was unable to access it Sunday or Monday.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Well Ruslan, you have lots of facts. What, are you a history professor? You sure have lots of time as well.”

    Sorry for using facts and knowing history. I will try to resort to alarmist, emotional appeals more often in the future.

    “I am aware that the descendents of Genghis Khan converted on their own, Timurlane the cripple, I believe. (Although I just found this little tidbit – Ibn Taymiyya, dubbed ‘the spiritual father of the Islamic revolution’ preached that “Jihad should be waged against those who do not follow the teaching of Islam.” He issued a Jihadi fatwa against the >>>Mongols that they are not Muslim enough though they observed the Ramadan, that they’re “takfir” (ex-communicated), adding that the Koran and Sunna state that those who forsake the law of Islam should be fought) ”

    Lots of fatwas have been issued throughout history. In case you haven’t noticed, Islam hasn’t been a unified faith since the days after the death of Mohammed. Political reality always trumps religious ideology..

    “Lower taxes? Self rule? Geez, please to explain this to the Bulgarians and the Serbs and the Transylvanians, all of whom paid the jizzya.”

    Yes, a jizya tax which was lower than what the Byzantine empire required of its subjects. Do you understand the difference between lower taxes and no taxes?

    As I said, the Ottomans’ secret to success was not disturbing other religious communities and allowing their nobility to keep their titles. This is why, for example, Serbian knights fought alongside Sultan Bayazid I at the battle of Ankara(against Tamerlane) despite the fact that the battle of Kosovo field had taken place some time before.

    ” With the specific intention of the turks not so much the tax itself, but the abject humiliation of those paying it.”

    So Byzantines impose normal feudal taxes, higher ones even, over populations they practically deserted militarily, and it’s not humiliating. But the Ottomans impose the jizya tax, and it’s humiliating? Do explain that difference please. While your at it, explain why the Muslim zakat tax, often higher, is somehow not humiliating.

    Also take note that Christians were not liable for military service, and even with the Janissary system(itself a clear violation of Islamic law, and later reformed for that reason), few Christians had to serve the empire. In fact, the Janissary system offered such ample opportunities for social advancement that Muslims often bribed officials and registered their children as Christian in hopes that they would be called up by the devsirme system and become Janissaries. Bosnian Muslims also protested for this right to join.

    “The Balkans were always a tinder box, and the Turks despised. How many wars were there over the centuries? Many dozens I believe. Willing Christian allies bacause their sons were held hostage in Istanbul, ala Vlad Dracul. I refer you to the the Gladstone Report, or some such, which revealed to a stunned world the extent of the tukish atrocities in putting down some 20th century rebellions.”

    The Turks could be as brutal as any other empire when it came to putting down rebellions(but keep in mind the Ottoman armies often relied on large number of irregulars, often free-booters, who could be of any religion- they were called Basi-Bozuklar), but it was far more tolerant in most respects than Christian empires. As I said, the Ottomans did not displace Christian populations, and allowed them to look after their own affairs. Thanks to the nationalism and romanticism of the 19th century, Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian populations would not remember this as they ethnically cleansed the Balkans of Turks and many Muslims.

    “If there is no compulsion in religion, why in Pakistan and Afghanistan do they levy the death penalty to islamic apostates? I realize this doesnt relate to conversion, but its close. Many, many hindus were offered conversion or death, and 50 million plus died in those wars.”

    Why do Buddhists claim to want nothing, while being driven around in Mercedes cars? Reality and politics clash with religion.

    “From a big picture perspective, whether spread by the sword or not, there was an awful lot of dying going on – ”

    As with many religions. Even the spread of Tibetan Buddhism to the Mongols and their Buryat relatives was far from peaceful. Remember that if you should run into the Dalai Lama some day.

    “History records instances of the “call for jihad” being invoked by Islamic leaders to legitimate wars of conquest. According to the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI), this has led to the killing through Jihad of around 270 million non-Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia over the last 1400 years……”

    Uh, what? I’d like a little background on thjs “Center” you speak of. I’d like to know how they make such calculations, because this is quite frankly ridiculous. And why is it surprising that a religious leader would invoke god to justify conquest? What is so evil about Islamic conquest that necessitates such scrutiny that is not warranted for other religions? In WWI the Ottoman sultan, still the Caliph, called a ‘jihad’- so what? Chingis Khan justified his conquests by claiming a mandate from heaven(the sky god, known to Turks as Gok Tanri or Tengri). When corresponding with other nations, the Mongols informed readers that God had mandated that all the world belonged to the Mongols.

    So again, 250 million dead? Idiocy. I have plenty of experience dealing with people who claim Communism is responsible for 100 million dead, and I know the wacky methodology they use to come up with that number. I can’t imagine what these people did to get that sum.

  • Louis Stouch

    Well Ruslan, you have lots of facts. What, are you a history professor? You sure have lots of time as well.

    I am aware that the descendents of Genghis Khan converted on their own, Timurlane the cripple, I believe. (Although I just found this little tidbit – Ibn Taymiyya, dubbed ‘the spiritual father of the Islamic revolution’ preached that “Jihad should be waged against those who do not follow the teaching of Islam.” He issued a Jihadi fatwa against the >>>Mongols that they are not Muslim enough though they observed the Ramadan, that they’re “takfir” (ex-communicated), adding that the Koran and Sunna state that those who forsake the law of Islam should be fought) .

    “THIS is precisely why Islam spread so fast, without having to kill the way Christians did in the New World. During the rise of the Ottoman empire, for example, the Ottomans found plenty of willing Christian allies because they offered lower taxes than the Byzantines, and allowed self-rule of non-Muslim religious communities…..”

    Lower taxes? Self rule? Geez, please to explain this to the Bulgarians and the Serbs and the Transylvanians, all of whom paid the jizzya. With the specific intention of the turks not so much the tax itself, but the abject humiliation of those paying it. (You jog my memory ruslan, thank you!). The Balkans were always a tinder box, and the Turks despised. How many wars were there over the centuries? Many dozens I believe. Willing Christian allies bacause their sons were held hostage in Istanbul, ala Vlad Dracul. I refer you to the the Gladstone Report, or some such, which revealed to a stunned world the extent of the tukish atrocities in putting down some 20th century rebellions.

    If there is no compulsion in religion, why in Pakistan and Afghanistan do they levy the death penalty to islamic apostates? I realize this doesnt relate to conversion, but its close. Many, many hindus were offered conversion or death, and 50 million plus died in those wars.

    We can argue all day. I’ve done some reading on this, and have formed an opinion, but clearly I am no expert. From a big picture perspective, whether spread by the sword or not, there was an awful lot of dying going on – “History records instances of the “call for jihad” being invoked by Islamic leaders to legitimate wars of conquest. According to the Center for the Study of Political Islam (CSPI), this has led to the killing through Jihad of around 270 million non-Muslims in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia over the last 1400 years……” Throw in those 50 million hindus, and thats 330 million souls.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “You are dead wrong ruslan. Mohamet had very little success gaining recruits UNTIL offensive jihad – with the spoils of war as a lure, and paradise promised to those that died – was broughty into play. I’ve read all about it, you see.”

    Incorrect Lou. Much of the Middle East converted to Islam without bloodshed, for a variety of reasons(especially thanks to the establishment of Catholic hegemony repressing other Christian sects). Please, tell me how Ibn Fadlan was able to convert the Volga Bulgars by the sword? How was the Golden Horde, part of a horde which had shook the foundations of the Islamic world, converted by the sword?

    I don’t know where you read that nonsense but you have a very poor knowledge of history. I suggest you read something like The Turks in World History, Or perhaps History of the Mongol Conquests, to see how such large areas of the earth came under Islamic influence. Setting out to spread the faith by the sword would have led to an early end to Islam.

    “If its one thing I’ve learned in dealing with islamists, they will always attempt to turn a failing of islam into a selling point by reversing what actually happened. In this case, the ludicrous notion that islam was primarily propogated through peaceful means. ”

    As I am an atheist, and have never been a Muslim, this cannot apply to me. However, your argument here is reductionist. Saying Islam was spread by the sword is dishonest for a number of reasons. But the peaceful spread of Islam, like that of Christianity, was usually done in return for various benefits, political and material.

    THIS is precisely why Islam spread so fast, without having to kill the way Christians did in the New World. During the rise of the Ottoman empire, for example, the Ottomans found plenty of willing Christian allies because they offered lower taxes than the Byzantines, and allowed self-rule of non-Muslim religious communities as well as letting military leaders keep their status. Without this factor, the Ottomans could never have built their early state in Anatolia. In fact at one point it is estimated that the majority of the Ottoman army was Christian.

    “What a laugher, my good friend. I’d love to see some documentation on that, and NOT from any of your friends – something impartial, if you please.”

    Please name your “impartial” sources.

    As for my sources, I have named two of them above. You could also look up Ibn Fadlan, who converted the Volga Bulgars(perhaps by the sword, if he was a one-man army).

    As for Quranic verse banning conversion via the sword.

    “2:256 There is no compulsion in religion, for the right way is clearly from the wrong way. Whoever therefore rejects the forces of evil and believes in God, he has taken hold of a support most unfailing, which shall never give way, for God is All Hearing and Knowing.

    16:82 But if they turn away from you, (O Prophet remember that) your only duty is a clear delivery of the Message (entrusted to you).

    6:107 Yet if God had so willed, they would not have ascribed Divinity to aught besides him; hence, We have not made you their keeper, nor are you (of your own choice) a guardian over them.”

    Of course theory and practice diverge in any religion.

    “One thing more ruslan. As I age, I at least attempt to see the “others” point of view. You on the other hand have nothing to say but that christianity is evil – Crusades, slave trade, 30 years war and destruction of native nations – and islam is good. Time and time again.”

    Sorry, can’t remember saying any of that. The Crusades were not a great evil only to Muslims but also Jews and Christians- the first victims of the campaigns. Moreover, slavery existed in the Islamic world for quite some time.
    My problem is with self-righteous Christians and people who like scapegoating entire groups.

    Did you forget? “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” -Matthew 7:5

    And do not forget, I am an atheist, and I have never been a Muslim. Don’t let the name fool you.

  • Lou Stouch

    One thing more ruslan. As I age, I at least attempt to see the “others” point of view. You on the other hand have nothing to say but that christianity is evil – Crusades, slave trade, 30 years war and destruction of native nations – and islam is good. Time and time again.

    What exactly do you intend to accomplish with these comments? To bring people together, to build bridges of understanding? Because if it is, you aint gettin it done.

    Is this the islamic way ruslam, always us versus them? Not very compassionate, not very understanding, not very positive thinking, are we ruslan?

  • Lou Stouch

    Just when I am trying to be a more reasonable person, leave it to ruslan to come along and spoil it for me with his snide comments.

    You are dead wrong ruslan. Mohamet had very little success gaining recruits UNTIL offensive jihad – with the spoils of war as a lure, and paradise promised to those that died – was broughty into play. I’ve read all about it, you see.

    If its one thing I’ve learned in dealing with islamists, they will always attempt to turn a failing of islam into a selling point by reversing what actually happened. In this case, the ludicrous notion that islam was primarily propogated through peaceful means.

    What a laugher, my good friend. I’d love to see some documentation on that, and NOT from any of your friends – something impartial, if you please.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Yes, the Reformation ended the Crusades, just in time for the 30 years war, an expanded slave trade, and the destruction of Native nations.

    Also, it is a fact that Islam spread mostly through missionary work, not “the sword”(in fact the Quran explicitly forbids forced conversion anyway).

  • Lou Stouch

    Hey Mary, I did just that, went to MPAC and checked out some of their literature. They seem to be reasonable folks in their attitudes.

    Personally, I have softened my views towards the Muslims somewhat. Clearly it is counter-productive to paint them all with the same brush, as this will only drive the moderates away. I understand that. But I am not yet ready to simply accept that all is well. Let me explain.

    The textbook controversy comes to mind. I did some research on this, and learned that there are actually some Muslim organizations whose sole purpose is to lobby the publishers of these history textbooks. Now this would be fine if it werent for the fact that there are blatant falsehoods and significant biases in any number of them as a result of these efforts. Islam is portrayed most favorably and Christianity is not. Very simply, I question the motivation here. That and the fact that this is obviously a long planned out strategy to influence our children. To what end, I wonder?

  • Jordan

    “Muslims have not had their reformation as yet to end their jihad.”
    1) Neither Muslims nor Christians are a single unitary force, there are many different sects in each (and only a vary small minority of the 1.4 billion Muslims are fanatical).
    2) You are partly right, the crusades ended and Europe advanced, on the other hand Mongols invaded the Middle East and its advancement was postponed. The solution is not to oppress those who have suffered, it is to ease their suffering. You do not beat the sick, you help them.
    “A reformed Islam can’t be born if western idiots don’t recognize reform is mandatory.” Islam needs no reform, the third world nations of the Middle East that spawn terrorism, desperation, and fanaticism do. The only idiots are the ones who try to reduce 2000 years of history and countless turning points into “This groups doing better, this group good, that group not doing so well, that group bad”.

  • Mary

    An accusatory statement without citations is without merit, e.g. “Islam is a theocracy that encourages suicide and murder, with a slight nod toward western sensibilities by calling them martyrdom and jihad.”

    We must remember always that accusation is not proof (Edward R. Murrow).

    I recommend reviewing the publications offered by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, http://www.mpac.org/.

  • Snorlax

    Islam may have been spread by the sword long ago, but that doesn’t let Christianity off the hook!

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

  • DorisV

    “Imagine” by John Lennon says it best. “Imagine if there were no religions or countries too” . All men living in peace, well, this will never happen because humans are greedy and do not try to be kind to one another.

  • Lou Stouch

    Another indicator: Educators are reporting the harassment of Muslim students and attempts to limit the way Islamic history and culture are taught…………….

    Well, when there are blatant inaccuracies in the Islamic history that is being taught – as in that Islam was never spread by the sword, and only through dawah – it needs to be put to rights. 50 million dead Hindus would likely tend to disagree with that assertion.

    What is good for the goose is good for the gander – Christianity is pilloried for the Crusades, and the ACLU wants anything related to its practice wiped from the public sphere. Whats different about Islam, I ask? What about a level playing field, hmmm?

  • Charles Franklin

    Quick Question: If you’re trying to stop”radical” Muslims, why use the same tactics as the group you are going against?

  • Todd

    Are there any stories about hate crimes against jews by muslims?

  • Sam Molloy

    I’m thinking that there are moderate Muslims, like there are moderate Christians. The radical Muslims have a lot in common with the radical Christians: Freddy Phelps, the Watchmen on the Walls, the Seven Mountains people, etc.

  • http://bandncraft@charter.net Nancy

    I remain astounded how easily first fear then hatred has taken over our country. The people I distrust most are those who take in the fear and hatred factors and preach them to their families and friends.

  • Dick Lancaster

    Those “so called” Christians, Paen, are severely dealt with in Muslim countries. Those “so called” Christians had a reformation that ended the barbarity of the Crusades. Muslims have not had their reformation as yet to end their jihad. Christianity is a religion that does not condone suicide. Therefore it would be in their best interests to keep their eyes on a sect that vows to kill or subjugate them. Islam is a theocracy that encourages suicide and murder, with a slight nod toward western sensibilities by calling them martyrdom and jihad. Any critisism of this maniacal insanity is called hate speech by islam’s useful idiots who accomidate murderers and stoneage throwbacks to relieve their guilt from taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the world’s most advanced society.

    If you really want to help Muslims you would be better off separating the mature ones from the nutty ones. Once the mature ones know that we do recognize the difference they may come out to assist us in ridding the world of this murderous theocracy. A reformed Islam can’t be born if western idiots don’t recognize reform is mandatory.

    The SPLC used to be my hero. It has now become just another depository for highly educated morons.

  • Paen

    My bible says ‘Blessed are the peace makers’
    I just wish that these so called Christians would remember this.