Number of Anti-Muslim groups in US increased three-fold since Trump launched his Presidential campaign, say experts

Hate crimes and harassment have also risen

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Tuesday 23 January 2018 17:44 GMT
Activists say more groups are also speaking out against bigotry
Activists say more groups are also speaking out against bigotry

The number of anti-Muslim groups has trebled since Donald Trump launched his bid for White House, experts have said.

Against the backdrop of a highly publicised election campaign during which Mr Trump frequently denounced Muslims and vowed to ban them from the country, both the number of anti-Muslim groups and the number of hate crimes carried out against Muslims has increased.

These incidents include everything from the bullying of Muslim children at school, the harassment of Muslim women wearing headscarves and the vandalising of mosques, said Madihha Ahussain, a lawyer specialising in anti-Muslim bigotry with the national advocacy group, Muslim Advocates.

“It feels that no aspect of the community has been spared from the increase in anti-Muslim sentiment,” said Ms Ahussain, speaking during a media briefing marking Mr Trump’s first executive order that sought to ban people from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.

Heidi Beirich, who monitors hate groups for the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Centre, said it was a “troubling time” for people involved in tracking such groups. She said the number of anti-Muslim organisations had tripled to more than 100 between 2015 and 2016, and she said she expected to see a further increase when data for 2017 was released next month.

“The main source that has been fuelling this for the last few years is the Trump campaign and now administration, as well as their fellow anti-Muslim politicians at the state level,” she added.

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Ms Beirich said over the past year hate groups had become more radical and had increased their capabilities, both on the streets as well as in state legislatures. She said groups such as Act For America, anti-Muslim group which the Southern Poverty Law Centre describes as a hate group, were frequently involved with neo-Nazis, white supremacists and armed militia.

“In many cases those protests were led by members of these groups,” she said. “To us, that represents a frightening convergence of extremism around anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.”

Ms Beirich claimed anti-Muslim groups had never before enjoyed the level of access they currently do the White House. She said Brigitte Gabriel, who founded Act for America in 2007, has visited the White House and has “close allies” there. She said other groups had access to people in the administration.

“These hate groups also have access at the congressional level,” she said.

Last year, the founder of a leading Muslim group, said Muslims in America were more vulnerable to bigotry and Islamophobia as a result of Mr Trump’s behaviour and actions than they were after the 9/11 attacks.

Ibrahim Hooper said such was the level of anxiety and apprehension, many Muslims were fearful to public display signs of their faith. A number of Muslim women, for instance, were deciding not to to appear in public wearing the veil.

“It’s not just Americans Muslims [who feel anxious],” said Mr Hooper, a founder of the Council On American-Islamic Relations. “We have have seen white supremacists emboldened under Trump.”

Neither the White House or Act for America immediately responded to requests for a comment.

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