June 23, 2017 / 8:12 PM / 3 months ago

U.S. Muslim group launches cellphone app to report hate crimes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hoping to get an accurate count of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Friday launched a mobile app allowing victims to report bias incidents.

The group launched its Making Democracy Work for Everyone app a month after it reported a 44 percent surge in the number of hate crimes reported by U.S. Muslims last year. Concerned that the 260 hate crimes CAIR learned of last year represent just a fraction of the actual total, the group intends the app to increase reporting.

“In a moment of trauma, you’re not thinking that I need to go online and enter something, but your phone will always be in your hand,” said Corey Saylor, who runs the group’s anti-Islamophobia efforts.

The application allows a user to file a description of an alleged incident, which CAIR staff will then investigate. If the group concludes the incident was the result religious bias, it will include it in its reporting, and if it believes the incident was criminal, it will share the details with local police.

The app offers advice about what rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution and contains contact information for CAIR’s national headquarters in Washington and chapters nationwide.

The group this year resumed tracking anti-Muslim incidents, following a surge in bias cases last year. While the group saw an increase in anti-Muslim incidents prior to Donald Trump’s stunning rise in last year’s presidential primaries and November election victory, it said the acceleration in bias incidents was due in part to Trump’s focus on militant Islamist groups and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Trump has said his policies do not reflect religious discrimination but rather efforts to improve national security, following a series of attacks.

It is not the first time a U.S. advocacy group has used an app to try to track bias incidents. The Sikh Coalition Organization launched a similar app in 2012 to report bias incidents in U.S. airports.

Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman

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