xml:space="preserve">

Hate crimes against Muslims in Maryland jumped to 14 in 2015 from just one the year before, according to new research from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

It was by far the largest percentage increase among hate crimes reported in the state.

Advertisement

"The community has a big concern," said Rizwan Siddiqi, president of the United Maryland Muslim Council. "There are a couple reasons why we understand this is happening. ... It's a little bit of profiling, a lack of education and lack of information to the general public."

Maryland hate crimes also increased against African-Americans, Jews and gay men. From 2014 to 2015, the reported crimes against African-Americans rose from 67 to 90; against Jews, 40 to 46; and against gay men, six to 16.

The statistics were gathered from law enforcement agencies by Brian Levin, director of the hate crime research center in San Bernardino, Calif.

"More densely populated and more diverse states seem to be seeing the increase," he said.

Levin said national statistics for 2015 reveal the largest annual increase in hate crimes against Muslims since 2001, the year of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Siddiqi said sentiments against Muslims have grown increasingly threatening during the presidential race. Republican candidate Donald Trump has called for a ban of Muslim immigrants seeking to enter the U.S. Trump recently referred to his plan as "extreme vetting."

Across all races and religions, hate crimes reported in Maryland increased to 203 last year from 155 in 2014.

Crimes against Muslims, African-Americans, Jews and gay men made up more than 80 percent of the total incidents reported in Maryland. Hate crimes against Latinos dropped to three in 2015 from 10 the prior year.

A rash of anti-Semitism in the late 1980s led Maryland officials to begin tracking hate crimes. Levin said Maryland ranks among states that have tracked such crimes the longest. The FBI has tracked hate crimes since the 1990s, he said.

Such crimes remain "vastly under-reported" by victims, Levin said. Of those reported last year in Maryland, there were 76 reports of vandalism, 49 spoken threats, 46 written threats and 25 assaults.

In Maryland, Siddiqi said he urges Muslims to show restraint if they're confronted.

"Be calm, be very careful, avoid arguments," he said. "That's the most we can do."

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement