(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Recently released FBI statistics on hate crimes committed across America in 2012 have revealed that Jewish people were by far the most targeted religious group, making up close to 60 percent of religious-based hate crimes.
Law enforcement agencies who contributed to the report noted 5,796 hate crime incidents involving 6,718 offenses, which is fewer than the 6,222 incidents involving 7,254 offenses from last year. The report separated the crimes among various categories, and found that close to half, or 48.3 percent, of all hate crimes were race-based. Another 19.6 percent pertained to a person's sexual orientation, another 19 percent to religion, and 11. 5 percent to ethnicity or national origin.
Hate crimes motivated by religion accounted for 1,166 of the reported offenses, with 56.7 percent identified as anti-Jewish cases. Another 12.8 percent were anti-Islamic, 7.6 percent were classified as anti-multiple religions, 6.8 percent were anti-Catholic, and 2.9 percent were anti-Protestant. Only one percent of religious-related hate crimes were aimed at Atheists/Agnostics.
The FBI noted that it works with hate crime groups throughout the country and helps them develop strategies to address local problems, including conducting training for local law enforcement, minority and religious organizations, and community groups to reduce civil rights abuses.
The Anti-Defamation League, however, whose defined mission is to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all," argued in a response that the FBI statistics are "seriously flawed" because a number of jurisdictions have failed to report hate crime numbers.
"This inadequate reporting demands a response from federal, state, and local officials, as well as civil rights and police organizations," wrote ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
"Especially disappointing is the fact that the report contains no data from jurisdictions that had been models for national response in the past. This is a significant setback in the progress that has been made over the past decade. The Justice Department and the FBI should use every resource at their disposal to push harder to obtain this missing data, urging those cities and states that still have not provided their 2012 hate crime data to do so as quickly as possible."
Foxman added that the Anti-Defamation League is working to reboot the collecting and reporting program, and is calling for more comprehensive hate crime reporting in the future.
"The HCSA (Hate Crime Statistics Act) report is more than just numbers. Behind the numbers are individuals and communities deeply affected by these crimes. When an agency does not participate in the HCSA program, it inevitably raises questions about whether that agency is truly ready and willing to respond to hate violence effectively."
The non-government group noted that although the FBI's 2012 statistics seemingly represent a 7 percent decrease in hate crimes from 2011, the comparison is misleading because of "extreme under-reporting" by law enforcement agencies. It added that only 13,022 law enforcement agencies out of approximately 18,000 provided data in 2012, while nearly 14,500 agencies reported in 2011.