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FBI: Hate crimes against Muslims up 70 percent in 2015

By Doug G. Ware
FBI: Hate crimes against Muslims up 70 percent in 2015
A candlelight vigil is held in honor of the three young American Muslims who were fatally shot in their apartment in North Carolina, at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles on February 12, 2015. The FBI released its 2015 Uniform Crime Report on Monday showing a near 70 percent increase in hate crimes toward Muslims. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Hate crimes against Muslims in the United States in 2015 climbed nearly 70 percent -- and hate crimes in general were up about a tenth of that, FBI statistics said Monday.

The figures were reported in its Uniform Crime Report, released Monday, which compiles data about both single-bias and multiple-bias hate crimes.

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A hate crime is defined by the FBI in its reporting as one that is motivated by at least one bias, such as religion or race.

"Hate crimes like these can have a devastating impact upon the communities where they occur, which is one of the reasons why the investigation of hate crimes that fall under federal jurisdiction is the No. 1 priority under the FBI's civil rights program," the FBI said in a news release Monday.

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Overall, 5,850 hate crimes were reported, a 6.8 percent increase from 2014.

According to those figures, most of the nearly 6,000 incidents (3,310) were motivated by race, ethnicity or ancestry -- and most of those, 53 percent, were perpetrated against black people. The second-most, 613, were committed against white people (19 percent).

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Hate crimes against Muslims saw the largest single category increase -- up nearly 70 percent to 257 from 154 the year before. Religion was cited as a motivator for more than 1,200 of the total reported incidents, the report said -- most against Jews (664). The crimes against Muslims were second in that category.

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Other bias-based crimes logged by the FBI's report concern sexual orientation (1,053), gender identity (114), disabilities (74) and gender (23). The report said 32 of the crimes were motivated by more than one bias.

Hate crime incidents against Catholics and LGBT persons actually declined in 2015, the report said.

Most of the crimes tracked in the report were committed against persons, but some targeted property. Of those that targeted others, the vast majority included simple assault or intimidation. Nearly 700 involved aggravated assault, 12 included rape and eight amounted to murder.

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Regarding the crimes against property, most involved vandalism. The FBI report also included 65 hate "crimes against society" -- those that didn't directly target any one person or property.

Also, some of the reported incidents involved multiple offenses, the report said. In the 5,850 incidents reported, a total of 6,885 offenses were committed by almost 5,500 known offenders against a total of nearly 7,200 victims. Most of the known offenders were white (48 percent) and 24 percent were black.

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Overall, hate crime incidents were up slightly to 5,850 in 2015 from 5,479 in 2014.

About 15,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide contribute to the Uniform Crime Report, which was mandated in 1990 by Congress' Hate Crime Statistics Act.

"We need to do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crime to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it," FBI Director James Comey said in a statement.

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