In 2002, the Council on American-Islamic Relations reported 602 cases of civil rights abuses against Muslims in the United States. In the most recent year of reporting, 2004, it reported 1,522.
CAIR Chicago office spokesman Sultan Muhammad doesn't doubt that reporting frequency has increased somewhat, but he said the overwhelming proof is that segments of America are finding ethnic and religious profiling acceptable post-Sept. 11.
There have been educational efforts to distinguish Muslims as a whole from radical terrorists, but Muhammad fears the message largely is lost amid daily world news, where voices of violence and radicalism gain more attention than voices of condemnation, and in domestic political rhetoric.
He said, "The majority of the impact has been embedded phobia against Muslims and Islam. Islamaphobia is a reality."
In a 2006 poll CAIR found one in four respondents believe Islam is a religion of hatred.
That number may be conservative.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll asked, "Do you think mainstream Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims or is it a peaceful religion?"
Thirty-three percent said it was violent; 54 percent said peaceful; 13 percent were unsure.
In another poll, 39 percent of respondents admitted feeling some prejudice against U.S. Muslims. . .
Among Muhammad's biggest concerns is that people in positions of leadership feed into the situation, by endorsing racial profiling and making sweeping remarks, some of them highly offensive to Muslims, turban-wearing Sikhs and others. He cites two examples in the following reporting from Associated Press:
o Rep. John Cooksey, R-La.: "If I see someone come in and he's got a diaper on his head and a fan belt around that diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked."
o Paul Nelson, Wisconsin congressional candidate: "Racial profiling is one way that we can cut down on security risks," Nelson said in an interview with WIXK Radio in New Richmond. When asked how to tell what a Muslim male looks like, Nelson replied, "Well, you know, if he comes in wearing a turban and his name is Mohammed, that's a good start."