TEXAS – Hate crimes targeting United States Muslims are on the rise, according to a newly-released report by the advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
The study, released Monday, found 300 hate crimes against Muslims occurred last year, marking a 15 percent increase from 2016.
A group of Central Texans came together Thursday night to try to change that; saying they want to reverse a false narrative about the Muslim community.
"The actions of one person don't reflect an entire community," said Maira Sheikh of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Sheikh organized a panel discussion to "challenge violent stereotypes frequently and falsely associated with minority communities."
Also on the panel were members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and immigrant rights groups.
Sheikh said Central Texas' Muslim community felt unfairly placed in the spotlight during the Austin bombings.
"More often than not the word terrorism is often reserved for alleged perpetrators or perpetrators that are of a particular background. Most often they are associated with the Muslim faith," Sheikh said.
Meanwhile, some members of the Muslim community said policies imposed by the Trump administration have been fanning anti-Muslim sentiment.
"The current presidency has been very polarizing," said Islam Mossaad, Imam of the North Austin Muslim Community Center.
Some of the polarizing policies include the travel ban, which prevents entry into the U.S. by visitors from several Muslim-majority countries.
The Trump administration says it's about security, but Mossaad says it's stirred ill-will among some Americans.
"A green light to others who may be hateful or even hurtful toward Muslims," said Moassad.
However, even with hate crimes against Muslims on the rise in the U.S., Mossaad said he has hope.
"Human beings at their core nature have good," Mossaad said. "Even if they may have tendencies toward vice."