Muslim Community Reaction

With war in Iraq on the horizon, some Muslim Americans worry about the possibility of anti-Islamic backlash in the U.S.

The mosque in Tallahassee was attacked in the wake of Sept. 11, and members want to be sure nothing like that happens this time around. There is certainly a lot of concern and measures are being taken.

The council on American Islamic relations is urging mosques and Muslim leaders to pass out a nine page Muslim Safety Kit.

The kit helps American Muslims deal with hate and discrimination. It teaches them how to respond to bomb threats, check suspicious mail, and to report suspicious activity.

Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell says that hate crimes against Muslims carry steep penalties in Florida and patrols of local Mosques will be stepped up.

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Who Commits Hate Crimes?

  • Most hate crimes are carried out by otherwise law-abiding young people who see little wrong with their actions.

  • Alcohol and drugs sometimes help fuel these crimes, but the main determinant appears to be personal prejudice

  • Of 1,459 hate crimes committed in the Los Angeles area in the period 1994 to 1995, fewer than 5 percent of the offenders were members of organized hate groups.

  • Extreme hate crimes tend to be committed by people with a history of antisocial behavior.

  • Researchers have concluded that hate crimes are not necessarily random, uncontrollable, or inevitable occurrences.

  • There is overwhelming evidence that society can intervene to reduce or prevent many forms of violence, especially among young people, including the hate-induced violence that threatens and intimidates entire categories of people.

Why Do People Commit Hate Crimes?

  • Hate crimes are message crimes. They are different from other crimes in that the offender is sending a message to members of a certain group that they are unwelcome in a particular neighborhood, community, school, or workplace.
    • Racial hatred
    • Resentment of ethnic minorities
    • Religious discrimination
    • Gender-based bias
    • Disdain of gay men and lesbians
    • Scorn of people with disabilities

What is the Emotional Damage

  • Intense feelings of vulnerability, anger, and depression, physical ailments and learning problems, and difficult interpersonal relations-all symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder-can be brought on by a hate crime.

  • Some hate crime victims have needed as much as 5 years to overcome their ordeal.

  • By contrast, victims of nonbiased crimes experienced a decrease in crime-related psychological problems within 2 years of the crime.

  • Like other victims of posttraumatic stress, hate crime victims may heal more quickly when appropriate support and resources are made available soon after the incident occurs.

Source: http://www.apa.org/pubinfo/hate/ (American Psychological Association Web Site)


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