Religious hate crime numbers on the rise

  • June 18, 2010
Race, religion and sexual orientation continue to be the prime targets for hate crimes in Canada, with more than one quarter of all hate crimes committed against people because of their faith.

Though race accounted for 55 per cent of hate crimes reported by police, religiously motivated hate crimes jumped 53 per cent between 2007 and 2008 and accounted for 26 per cent of 1,036 hate crimes in 2008.

The Statistics Canada figures on hate crimes are gathered from police services that serve 88 per cent of Canada’s population. Statistics Canada warns that the figures almost certainly underreport hate crimes not only because not all police forces report hate crimes but because many incidents go unreported to police.

Jews suffer the majority of religiously motivated hate crimes. The 165 hate crimes against Jews reported in 2008 represents 64.2 per cent of the total of 265 religiously motivated hate crimes. Canada has a Jewish population of about 350,000.

Between 2007 and 2009 hate crimes against Catholics doubled to 30, or 11.7 per cent of all religiously motivated hate crimes. There are more than 13 million Catholics in Canada.

Canada’s relatively small Muslim population of about 600,000 drew 10.1 per cent of the attacks based on religion.

While all categories of hate crimes increased year-over-year, the most dramatic increase was in hate crimes motivated by religion. The religion category boomed by 53 per cent, compared to a 15-per-cent increase in attacks based on ethnicity and race.

Assaults, uttering threats and other types of violent attack accounted for 42 per cent of 2008’s hate crimes.

The most frequent target of violent hate crimes is the homosexual community. Three-quarters of the 159 hate crimes based on sexual orientation reported in 2008 were violent, compared with 38 per cent of racially motivated incidents and 25 per cent of religiously motivated incidents.

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