Hate crimes in the United States decreased in 2012, data released Monday by the FBI shows.
The annual report, compiled through voluntary reporting from law enforcement agencies, further shows that crimes targeting Muslims remains flat and relatively uncommon. This contradicts claims by Islamist groups that hate crimes against Muslims are spiking, fueled in part by what the groups call an organized effort by groups pushing "Islamophobia."
There were 5,796 reported incidents involving hate crimes during 2012, the report shows. Of those, nearly half involved racial animus. More than 1,800 reported incidents targeted black people – by far the largest group attacked.
In bias crimes involving religion, Jews were targeted in 674 incidents – 62 percent of all religiously-motivated crimes. That's five times more than Muslim Americans, who were targeted in 130 incidents – or fewer than 12 percent of all religiously-motivated crimes. Estimates vary, but there are roughly twice as many Jews in the United States as Muslims.
Anti-Muslim crimes represented 13.3 percent of the religious attacks in 2011.
The number of incidents dropped for each group.
Occasionally, incidents originally touted as hate crimes turn out to be something quite different. In April 2012, a Muslim woman was bludgeoned to death in her home near San Diego. A note found near her body made it seem she was attacked because she was a Muslim woman who wore a hijab. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement saying the attack showed "the dangers of allowing hateful rhetoric and bigotry to go unpunished, and the fatal consequences that can result."
Shaima Alawadi's husband is scheduled to face trial next year after being charged with her murder.
None of this is to justify or excuse real crimes targeting people because of their faith or to minimize the real threat to innocent life when a mosque is targeted for arson or someone is assaulted because of how they look or how they dress. It's simply an acknowledgement of reality. "Crying wolf" over false hate crimes only compounds the damage done to real victims.
There are hate crimes and they are bad. If the FBI data is accurate, however, the threat facing Muslim Americans is not growing and remains dramatically lower than that facing black people, gays and Jews.