According to researchers, there’s a correlation between President Donald J. Trump’s anti-Muslim tweets and hate crimes against Muslims.
In a research paper titled, “Making America Hate Again? Twitter and Hate Crime Under Trump,” University of Warwick researchers Karsten Müller and Carlo Schwarz examine anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded by the FBI and their correlation to how Trump tweets about Islam.
“Whether it’s a tweet or whether it’s in a policy [Trump is] introducing, or if it’s in a policy someone in his administration is introducing, I think it all comes together to create this kind of environment where targeting Muslims is acceptable or has become acceptable,” Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry at Muslim Advocates, told Religion News Service (RNS).
According to RNS, “the data showed a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes since the start of Trump’s presidential campaign, concentrated in counties with high Twitter usage. It also showed a correlation between the number of Trump’s tweets in a given week that used keywords related to Islam and the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes that followed.”
This isn’t surprising, especially given recent surveys on hate crimes. According to South Asian Americans Living Together (SAALT), a nonprofit that advocates for the civil rights of the South Asian community in the United States, incidents of violence and xenophobic hate speech aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Middle Eastern and Arab communities in the U.S. increased by 45 percent in the year following Trump’s election. The majority of the perpetrators intended harm because they perceived their victims to be Muslim.
Of course, Trump’s tweets are not the entire issue. Islamophobia existed before Trump, and it will exist after him as well. America has a long way to go reach full inclusivity of religious and nonreligious people. Trump’s tweets simply validate and fuel the fire of prejudices many people already hold, Schwarz noted.
“Our idea is not basically that it’s just Donald Trump’s individual tweets that are causing this entire effect,” Schwarz said. “His tweets are widely shared, the news are discussing it and a lot of people are just exposed to this kind of rhetoric. This is just spreading through social media and in particular Twitter.”
Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric (as a candidate, he called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims from entering the U.S.) led to three iterations of the Muslim ban – all of which Americans United fought in court and through grass-roots activism. Not only does the ban cruelly separate American Muslims from their families, but it broadly impacts marginalized communities in the U.S. by emboldening discrimination, hate speech and violence.
As an American Muslim, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: It’s never too late for Trump to be a president to all Americans, not just those he perceives as believing in the “right” religion.
No one should be singled out for discrimination, hate crimes and or hateful speech simply because of their religious beliefs. That’s why Americans United will continue to fight against policies that betray religious freedom and harm religious minorities. Join us.