OKLAHOMA CITY – Inside its 2016 civil rights report, the Oklahoma Council on American-Islamic Relations says hate crimes and discrimination against Muslims are on the rise. “We’ve seen crimes that have featured more violence, more damage when there is damage to property in particular when it comes to hate crimes and assaults we’ve kind of seen an escalation of violence there,” CAIR-OK Civil Rights Director Veronica Laizure said. Inside, CAIR points to data collected by its civil rights division, showing increases in the number of hate crime and vandalism complaints. The number of anti-Muslim bullying complaints is doubled. Several racially motivated crimes in Oklahoma made national news last year, for example a Mosque in Lawton that was severely damaged. A halal market that was vandalized in Oklahoma City and the high-profile murder of a Lebanese Christian in Tulsa, his killer repeatedly harassing him believing he was Muslim. “When the rights of one community are threatened, the rights of all of us are threatened” Laizure said. “So, it’s up to us to respond to threats to our civil liberties One of the starkest findings is the number of complaints against the FBI spiked, rising from just five-percent of calls in 2015 to 40-percent in 2016. In an emailed response, an FBI spokesperson said, “The heart of the FBI’s effectiveness is having a good relationship with the Muslim community and we will continue to strive for communication and cooperation with Oklahoma’s Muslim leaders and society.” Laizure acknowledged part of the increase may be due to CAIR’s recent campaigning about civil rights, suggesting an increased understanding of how and when to report may have played a role. She also said she believes the 2016 presidential campaign season contributed as well.
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