Reported hate crimes against Muslims rose in 2015 to their highest number since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to FBI statistics released Monday.
Overall, the number of hate crimes reported by law enforcement agencies to the FBI increased 6.7 percent, from 5,479 incidents in 2014 to 5,850 last year. The total is far lower than the numbers seen in the early 2000s, but the report comes at a time of heightened tensions following last week’s presidential election.
The FBI did not break down the anti-Muslim hate crimes by state. Overall, hate crimes in North Carolina rose 15 percent, according to an Observer analysis.
The most recent reporting covers calendar year 2015, which included the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., as well as Republican Donald Trump’s call for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. All of those, however, did not occur until the final two months of the year.
Never miss a local story.
It’s not yet known whether Trump plans to implement such a ban now that he has won the presidency. Critics say his pledge has contributed to anti-Muslim sentiment.
“We’ve seen how words from public figures like Donald Trump translate into violence,” said Mark Potok with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups in the U.S.
Last year, there were 257 reported incidents of anti-Muslim bias compared to 154 in 2014. The number of reported hate crimes against Muslims peaked at 481 in 2001.
On Sunday, Trump said he had not heard reports that some of his supporters might be harassing minorities. “I am so saddened to hear that,” Trump said during an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.” “And I say, stop it. If it, if it helps, I will say this and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.”
Any increases, including the ones seen in anti-Muslim crimes, could be due in part to more reporting by victims as well as better reporting and tracking by law enforcement agencies. The number of law enforcement agencies sending data on hate crimes to the FBI decreased by about 3 percent in 2015.
An AP investigation earlier this year found 17 percent of local law enforcement agencies had not submitted a single hate crime report during the past six years as part of the FBI’s tracking program, prompting concerns that an undercount was masking the true scope of hate and bias crimes in the U.S.
Anti-gay hate crimes rise in N.C.
Hate crimes based on sexual orientation in North Carolina rose 61 percent – from 23 to 37 – far outpacing the national average increase of 3.5 percent, according to FBI statistics released Monday.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reported nine crimes based on sexual orientation in 2015 compared to five the year before.
Last year, police reported 161 hate crimes, though not all agencies sent data to the FBI. That’s up from 140 in 2014.
Experts say many more hate crimes against the LGBTQ community go unreported because some victims fear further reprisals by outing themselves and some arresting officers don’t recognize what constitutes a hate crime. Many law enforcement agencies don’t report cases for inclusion in yearly FBI statistics because reporting is voluntary. In 2015, only 52 of the state’s roughly 532 law enforcement agencies reported a hate crime.