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Instead of Pitying American Muslims, Work With Them

Dr. Robbins is the Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Massachusetts.

In the weeks since the electionthe American Muslim community has seen a massive outpouring of support. As a community advocate, I’ve personally received hundreds of e-mails and calls from people asking how they can help, and letting me know that they’re with us and will do everything that they can to aid us during this time. People across the political, religious and political spectrums have reached out to their Muslim neighbors like never before and have offered to aid us in any way needed.

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Subway hate crime statistics to be sent to MTA

The MTA will now receive monthly updates on hate crimes reported in its facilities — a response to the citywide uptick in the crimes documented since the election of Donald Trump.

Hate crime stats will be packaged in the police department’s crime briefing, which currently includes data on incidents like murders, rapes and assaults that have occurred in the MTA’s subway and bus networks.

The briefing is presented to the New York City Transit and Bus Committee each month.

The addition comes upon request from MTA Vice Chairman Fernando Ferrer, as well as several board members, on Monday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill last week announced a 35-percent increase in hate crimes between the election, on Nov. 8, and Dec. 5, throughout the city. During that time there were 43 hate crimes documented. Some involved swastikas scrawled on sidewalks, park property and subway cars.

“If there is a material increase in those incidents, would it not be wise to report them as we do with every other?” Ferrer asked Vincent Coogan, assistant chief with the NYPD Transit Bureau, at Monday’s committee meeting.

Coogan said that his department can add reports on hate crimes to its briefings without much difficulty. The department already compiles the information internally.

“Yes, I’ll have that for you,” Coogan said. “We have a unit that’s dedicated just to investigate those crimes. … We take it very seriously. We always have.”

Board member Andrew Albert welcomed the inclusion of the stats. As did board memeber John Samuelsen, the president of TWU Local 100, the labor union representing MTA employees.

Last week, a Muslim MTA worker wearing her uniform and hajib was called a “terrorist” and pushed down a flight of stairs at Grand Central Terminal.

“There seems to have been an uptick,” said Albert. “And as much as we’re tracking other specific types of crimes, we should be tracking hate crimes.”

Islamophobic graffiti scrawled in subway station near Kensington

Hate has gone underground.

A vandal scrawled “F--- Allah” on a bench inside the Fort Hamilton Parkway F and G station on the border between Windsor Terrace and Kensington sometime before Monday, shocking local leaders who say it is the first Islamophobic graffiti they’d seen in the area in more than a year and that they blame Donald Trump’s victory for emboldening bigots to once again blight the area with their hate.

“We didn’t have any problems and now with the election a lot of people are taking advantage,” said Mamnunul Haq, a leader in the area’s large Bangladeshi Muslim community and member of Community Board 12. “It was gone for a while, but for this to happen today is really shocking.”

Louts attacked Kensington with both anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic graffiti for several years beginning in 2013, according to Haq — especially along Ocean Parkway, where mailboxes and storefronts could frequently be found debased with swastikas and messages defaming Allah.

But local politicians and officers of the 66th Precinct made a concerted effort to stamp out the rash of racist vandalism, and Haq said he hadn’t heard of any offensive scribbles since 2015 — until Monday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was not aware of the vandalism until contacted by the paper, and the agency dispatched a cleanup crew in response, according to an agency spokesman.

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington) says he has contacted police to investigate the subway vandalism and vowed to hold a community gathering to discuss the issue.

It is just the latest in a series of hate-filled outbursts in Brooklyn since the election of Trump — who during his campaign said that he would ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. and make all practitioners of Islam register with a national database — he noted.

“Unfortunat­ely, we’ve seen a welling up of hatred and Islamophobia in the weeks since the Trump election,” he said. “What you have to do is get it very quickly investigated, painted over, and see that the community comes out together against hate in support of our Muslim neighbors.”

Amongst other incidents, someone drew swastikas and “Go Trump!” in a Brooklyn Heights playground, another wrote “Trump!” on the door of the Muslim prayer room at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering Downtown, and a Trump supporter punched a woman in the face after a political argument in a Boerum Hill bistro.

A spokesman at the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information’s office said it did not have a report on the incident as of Monday afternoon.