With polls showing at least one in four Americans harbors some prejudice toward Muslims, a national Islamic rights group reported yesterday that complaints of civil rights abuses rose 25 percent last year. Some 2,467 complaints were made in 2006 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group with an office in San Diego. There are an estimated 5 million to 7 million Muslims in the United States, with about 100,000 in San Diego County.

He said that even with the heightened security concerns brought about by the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States would be safer if the checks were done more quickly “to find out who are the threats.”

While the council’s study focused on Muslims, the backlog for U.S. citizenship in general is long and the wait is often arduous. This month, a San Diego Union-Tribune story noted that the demand for family visas from Mexico, the Philippines, China and India is so great that some backlogs stretch more than 20 years. . .

California, the nation’s most populous state, registered the highest number of complaints, with 709. Eight were in San Diego, said Edgar Hopida, public-relations director for the local chapter. Hopida distributed the national report at a news conference at the Islamic Center of San Diego.

Many complaints involved citizenship delays. Hopida said would-be citizens with Arab or Muslim names are waiting several years for background checks that should take only a few months. . .

“CAIR’s research has found that prejudice decreases when people know more about Islam and when they personally interact with Muslims,” Hopida said.


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