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Hate Crimes – Points to Ponder

  • By A K Ziauddin Ahmed
  • 12th September, 2022 04:39:06 PM
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Hate Crimes – Points to Ponder

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What is hate? The dictionary meaning of hate is ‘intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.’ or ‘extreme dislike or disgust.’

I hate cockroaches. Why do I hate them? I have an intense disliking of their appearance, the way they crawl or fly sometimes, and I fear that they might fall or crawl up on my body. That’s disgusting! They can also spoil food. So, I kill cockroaches with insecticide. I can buy insecticides freely and there are some specifically advertised as effective in killing cockroaches. There is no crime in it.

People hate people for their colour, race, religion, culture, and so on. And that hatred often transcends mind to muscle. Fortunately, we don’t see guns advertised as say, ‘effective in killing both black and white people.’ And also, in our societies killing people out of hatred is a crime.

According to the United States Department of Justice hate crime means “assault, murder, arson, vandalism, or threats to commit such crimes. It may also cover conspiring or asking another person to commit such crimes, even if the crime was never carried out.” The US state and Federal hate crime laws include crimes committed based on the victim’s perceived or actual race, colour, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability.

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, law enforcement agencies in the USA reported 8,263 hate crime incidents in 2020. It’s easy to get data from developed countries because of their advanced and efficient systems of reporting, recording, and law enforcement. Even then the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) stated in 2021 that nine out of ten hate crimes were not being reported to the police. We can only imagine how many hate crimes are going unnoticed in the rest of the world.

Let’s take a look at some of the reported hate crimes that took place recently outside the developed world. On September 02, 2022, a blast detonated by suicide attackers outside a mosque in Herat, Afghanistan before Friday prayers killed 18 people and injured 23. On August 17, a suicide bomber blew himself off with a huge explosion in a crowded mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan during evening prayers, killing 21 people and injuring 33. On July 24, civilians were targeted by gunfire in a Shiite village in the Al-Khales region in Iraq. A total of 12 people were killed and wounded, including an Iraqi soldier. On June 5, gunmen with explosives attacked a catholic church in Owo, Nigeria killing 40 people and injuring 87 others. On May 15, militant attacks in Pakistan’s North Waziristan killed at least eight people, including security force members, children, and members of the minority Sikh group. The above timeline implies that incidents like these are not rare occurrences. Violence against religious minorities is more or less common in many countries of Asia and Africa like Afghanistan, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Uganda, etc.

Let’s now go back to the poor cockroaches. Are they responsible for their look and their way of moving that I hate so much? Obviously not. They did not create themselves. If they fall or crawl on my body, that’s not their intentional act to terrify me. They eat my food just to appease their hunger; they don’t mean to spoil my food. So, what is happening here? Why doesn’t it occur to the haters of coloured people that their skin colour is not their wrongdoing? The same goes for race, culture, religion, etc. People inherit those identities; they don’t choose them consciously.

We didn’t have any choice about where, when, and in which family we would be born. So, when we feel aversion to a certain race or colour, then we should think that we could belong to that race and colour as well. If you hate someone for something that is beyond his control and that person knows about your hatred, it will cause a distressing feeling of injustice in his mind, which will gradually turn into hate. As the old proverb goes, hate begets hate.

Probably the deadliest hate crimes occur due to religion. That’s because the rituals and do’s and don’ts sometimes conflict between religions. And, every religion or religious sect proclaims they are the only right. The family or society where we are born instils religious beliefs in our minds during our childhood. As we grow up, we carry on those beliefs and eventually become Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. But if we consider that the followers of every religion worship and pray to an ultimate entity whom they believe to be the creator of mankind and the universe and since there cannot be multiple creators – we all are essentially praying to the same creator of mankind and the universe. So, even if some of us are on the wrong path that should be the concern of the creator only. And, the almighty is fully capable of delivering justice. We don’t need to take that responsibility on our shoulders. We should just be patient and tolerant.

If we can’t get over the feeling of hatred in our mind, we can at least control our expressions of it and save ourselves from committing hate crimes by developing the simple understanding that the subject of hatred is not responsible for the cause of hatred.

The writer is a former Corporate Professional and Academic

Source: Sun Editorial