Another shocking hate crime, this time in Woodbridge, Virginia. A 13-year-old girl said a man cursed at her, grabbed her arm, and then threatened her with a knife before ripping off her hijab. He also allegedly called her a terrorist. She was only saved when a passing motorist noticed the attack and slowed down, causing the attacker to flee. Here’s how a local news station reported it yesterday:
But today police revealed the entire story had been fabricated. From the Washington Post:
In a statement, police said a school resource officer and the department’s detectives found that the girl last week had “falsely reported” the incident, which they were investigating as a hate crime…
Police said that “no altercation had occurred” and that the girl is expected to be charged with filing a false police report.
If this story sounds very familiar, that’s probably because nearly the same thing happened in Canada a couple months ago. In that case, the girl reporting the hate crime was 11-years-old and said a man had tried to cut off her hijab with a knife on the way to school. A press conference was quickly arranged and everyone from the Mayor of Toronto to Prime Minister Trudeau condemned the attack. A few days later the police announced it had never happened. The statement suggested (but didn’t quite say) that the girl had admitted to making it up.
There were at least 3 false reports of hate crimes on women wearing hijabs in late 2016. One involved a University of Michigan student who claimed a man threatened to set her on fire unless she removed her hijab. After a thorough investigation, detectives found inconsistencies in the woman’s statement and eventually concluded the event never happened. Before that, an 18-year-old who claimed a group of Trump supporters taunted her and told her to take off her hijab admitted she had made up the story. There was a similar report out of Louisiana which also turned out to be false.
Of course, that doesn’t mean real anti-Muslim hate crimes don’t happen. Last November, the FBI released data showing the number of reported anti-Muslim hate crimes had increased 19% in 2016, though the overall number of attacks was still small. The number of such attacks was about half the number of anti-Jewish attacks reported the same year.
Of the 6,121 hate crimes reported to the FBI in in 2016, anti-Islamic (anti-Muslim) crimes accounted for 307. This was a more than 19% rise from the previous year.
When you consider sheer numbers, there were more reports of hate crimes against Jews than against any other religious group. In 2016, 684 anti-Jewish incidents were reported — more than the rest of the religiously motivated hate crimes combined.
It goes without saying that any hate crime is repugnant but so are hoax hate-crime claims intended to enrage people. It’s fair to ask where a 13-year-old got the idea that she was likely to be targeted by such an attack.