A new social media campaign called #NotBreakingNews is putting a spotlight on violent incidents where anti-Muslim bias may have played a role.
The hashtag is a response to a shooting in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Tuesday that left three young Muslims dead. Police there have acknowledged speculation that the killings could be a hate crime, but have not classified it as one.
The shootings have shaken the community and drawn a national outpouring of support for the victims.
Still, DoSomething.org, the group organizing the #NotBreakingNews campaign, says the media has typically failed to cover anti-Muslim crimes.
"Due to bias, which has spiked since 9/11, the media often fails to cover these stories, making victims less likely to get the attention and justice they deserve," the group said in a statement.
In 2013, there were 135 incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes, according to the most recent numbers released by the FBI. That accounts for about 2 percent of all hate crimes tracked by the bureau for that year.
The peak of anti-Muslim crimes was during the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, according to the FBI. There were 28 anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded in 2000, a number which soared to 481 in 2001. The following year, 2002, the number dropped to 155, and it has since hovered around that line.
However, the FBI has always had longstanding issues when it comes to tracking hate crimes against Muslims, which can be conflated with ethnic hate crimes against Arabs—an ethnicity the Bureau has not included in its annual reports. In recognition of this, the FBI began tracking anti-Arab crimes on January 1 of this year. Those numbers will not be available until late 2016.
Overall, more hate crimes against blacks and Jews are recorded by the FBI than against Muslims.
There were 1,856 anti-black hate crime incidents in 2013, accounting for over 31 percent of all incidents the bureau tracked. There were 625 anti-Jewish hate crime incidents that year, making up for almost 11 percent of all reported incidents, by far the highest of any religious group.
"If it wasn’t a hate crime, what was it?" Amira Ata, friend of Chapel Hill victim Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, told Fusion of the latest attack. "If you have a problem with your neighbors, you write a letter; you don’t shoot . I think they were targeted because they were different."
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.