Written by Don Byrd

A disturbing new study released by the New York City Commission on Human Rights indicates that New Yorkers who wear religious garb face “rampant” abuse that includes physical assault, verbal attacks, and a denial of services by businesses open to the public. In a survey covering June 2016 until the end of 2017, one in ten such residents of New York Cityreported being the victim of physical attacks they suspected was the result of their race or religion. An astonishing one in five reported being shoved while standing on subway platforms wearing clothing required by their faith.

Buzzfeed News has much more on this study,including the Commissions plans for improving this situation:

Of those who experienced physical assault and did not report it, “concern about reprisal or other bad consequences (11.2%)” and “trying to report but not being taken seriously (9.2%)” were two notable obstacles.

In response to the findings, the commission plans to increase outreach through community networks, including faith-based organizations, to encourage reporting. It also plans to partner with groups that already serve Muslim, Arab, South Asian, Jewish, and Sikh New Yorkers, to better provide them with legal, mental health, and other forms of support.

“It is difficult to overstate the challenges facing so many New Yorkers in this current climate,” wrote [NYCCHR Chair Carmelyn] Malalis. “Xenophobic, Islamophobic, racist and anti-Semitic hate groups and individuals have been unabashed in revealing their long-standing patterns of racial oppression and religious discrimination. Xenophobic immigration policies, including discriminatory travel bans threaten local families with roots across the globe.”

One important way to increase awareness about the lives faced by religious minorities in our communities is to engage in interfaith dialogue. The Baptist Joint Committee is a participant in the essential Know Your Neighbor campaign, an initiative to foster interfaith communication and understanding. Learn more about that program and specific ways  you can help at the BJC’s Welcome Your Neighbors action page.