Tuesday 25th July 2017,

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False Reports of Hate Crimes Hurt Muslim Community

posted by Cathy Sun

When Muslim teen Yasmin Seweid was charged with falsifying her report of an alleged hate crime last Wednesday, Muslims nationally were struck by how her arrest would affect their fight against real bigotry and Islamophobia. Seweid claimed three men attacked her on a Manhattan subway and tried to pull off her hijab.

Imam Shamsi Ali, an interfaith activist, said that she was concerned “the real concerns of [the Muslim] community will be undermined and in time real attacks perpetrated against Muslims will be just considered such as this lie,” according to NBC News.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a spike in hate crimes since the election of Donald Trump. The SPLC drew its numbers from its #ReportHate website and the press, and did not include online harassment. Muslims were one of several targeted groups who faced hundreds of separate incidents of bias and violence.

“Whenever an individual, especially a minority, cries wolf, it always ends up hurting that community,” said Wajahat Ali, creative director of Affinis Labs.

False reports not only consume resources on the part of law enforcement, but they come at a high cost to marginalized communities who seek recognition of the injustices they face and protection from very real threats. For the Muslim community, reports of dishonesty only strengthen the arguments of naysayers by delegitimizing real instances of hate crimes.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Muslims in America were feeling “tremendous psychological stress and pressure” that can result in episodes like this incident, according to the New York Times.

No clear reason has emerged as to why Seweid lied about being the victim of hateful harassment, but the repercussions of her actions are evidently significant in the minds of Muslims.

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