Hate crimes in the Kansas City metro took a sharp rise in 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -
Statistics from the FBI show both possible general hate crimes and religious hate crimes sharply increased in the metro area between 2014 and 2015.
 
According to statistics provided from the FBI to 41 Action News, possible religious hate crimes increased 60 percent in Kansas City, Mo. alone, while general hate crimes increased 35 percent.
 
“You can just sense it from people,” explained Ahmad Al Habashi, the owner of Al Habashi Mart in the River Market. “You can see that they are nervous about what's going on."
 
Several Muslim leaders who spoke to 41 Action News on Tuesday said they knew of other Muslims being physically assaulted in the metro area because of their religion.
 
Al Habashi explained that his family has experienced hatred up close as well.
 
“A niece of mine was recently told, ‘Now that Trump is here, you Muslims will be going back to where you came from,’" said Al Habashi.
 
Besides KCMO, other parts of the metro area saw increases in possible hate crimes.
 
Overland Park had six times the amount of possible general hate crime cases reported from 2014 to 2015, although numbers from the first half of 2014 were not recorded.
 
The amount of possible general hate crimes in Lee’s Summit and Independence stayed the same from 2014 to 2015.
 
Early last year, staff at the Islamic Center of Greater Kansas City reported graffiti on a wall inside the facility.
 
On Tuesday, Director Mustafa Hussein said the amount of hate crimes against Muslims may grow worse after a heated election season.
 
“I hope it's not normal, but it may become something that we hear many times," he said. “The (campaign) rhetoric was so intense. It was sending the wrong message to the people. You cannot label a faith or blame it for the action of people."
 
After President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on promises to ban Muslim immigration to the US and to fight against ISIS, Hussein said peace for Muslim Americans could start at the top.
 
“I hope that President-elect Trump will stand up and say 'Hold on, that's not what I meant’,” he explained.
 
Others, like Ahmad Al Habashi, hope that communities can come together and help end the fear many Muslims continue to experience.
 
“What needs to change is more understanding of the background of these people,” he explained. “Get them together, understand where they come from."
 
Around the country, the FBI reported that hate crimes against minorities other than Muslims also increased from 2014 to 2015.
 
Statistics for the metro area are listed below.
 
 
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Tom Dempsey can be reached at Tom.Dempsey@KSHB.com.

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