Muslims, Jews increasingly fear of religious-based violence even if not personally targeted
A recent survey on different religious groups has shown that fear of hate crime looms especially among Muslims and Jews even if they have not personally been targeted before.
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According to a new study from Rice University and West Virginia University titled "Fear of Religious Hate Crime Victimization and the Residual Effects of Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia", appearing in a recent edition of Social Forces, Muslims and Jews suffer more fear of becoming a target of religious-based violence.
Using data from the 2019 edition of the nationally representative Experiences with Religious Discrimination Study survey, the authors found that among religious groups, Jews and Muslims were most likely to express fear of being targeted.
These concerns were explained in part by individuals' personal experiences with being discriminated against, but also their knowledge of discrimination against close friends and family and their greater religious visibility (that is, they are more likely to wear outward symbols of their religion).
"While individuals' fear of hate crime victimization might be partially explained by direct experiences, some of it is the result of historical and modern-day trauma suffered by religious peers," said Chris Scheitle, a professor of sociology at West Virginia University and the study's lead author.
"We attribute this residual fear to the deep-seated culture of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia within the U.S. and violence attributable to that culture, as well as the collective memory of historical religion-based victimization of Muslim and Jewish communities," said co-author Elaine Howard Ecklund, director of Rice's Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance.
Scheitle and Ecklund said they hope the findings will influence public policy efforts targeting religious victimization and its impacts.