SEATTLE – Each of the Muslim and Jewish communities in Seattle have been working independently to counter rising hate crimes, finding solutions to the recent spike in attacks.
“I’ve heard incidences of people using slurs at people wearing hijabs, physically pushing them and throwing things at them because they are Muslim,” Amina Ibrahim, a trainee at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Q13 Fox.
According to FBI data, hate crimes nationwide went up by 17 percent in 2017.
CAIR says in Washington State that the number went up by 32 percent. In Seattle, the cases nearly doubled from 118 to 234 from 2016 to 2017.
To counter the spike in hate crimes, CAIR was offering a bystander intervention training to help de-escalate the situation.
“When you have an incident of hate crime and no one does anything about it, you feel more isolated, even more scared,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim is interning with Cair, the organization behind the workshops.
“We’ve had an amazing turnout,” McKenna Lux, one of the instructors working with CAIR, said.
She said that many people were coming to the workshops that CAIR holds every month to teach them how to support someone being harassed or affected by a hate crime.
“It can be encouraging words and letting them know that it’s happening and asking if they want to go somewhere else,” Lux said.
Lux says people should not engage the attacker because the goal is to de-escalate the situation.
Joseph Schoken, a Seattle banker, was also motivated to find solutions when his Jewish Community Center in Mercer Island was bombarded with bomb threats.
“We don’t accept hate crimes in this country,” he said.
“It is scary, it is emotionally destabilizing,” Schoken said.
For Shocken the solution was to change federal law and getting Rep. Derek Kilmer on his side.
“We worked really close together he had to find a Republican co-sponsor which he did,” Schoken said.
The Seattleite’s efforts expanded federal hate crime laws, with President Trump signing it into law last month.
“It is a terrific feeling to have had this experience to have improved the federal laws to protect all community institutions,” Schoken said.