Despite educational outreach programs, sensitivity training and cross-cultural soul searching in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, a recent report has found anti-Muslim bias attacks are at an all-time high.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nationwide nonprofit Islamic civil liberties organization, showed a nearly 30 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents between 2004 and 2005, the highest number of complaints since the group started compiling statistics more than a decade ago.

The report, released in late September, found 80 percent of the complaints concentrated in just eight states and the District of Columbia — with 4 percent of cases in New Jersey.

Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR’s national legal director, said the fact that CAIR now has offices in 32 states and that a lot more people are coming forward to report bias incidents have contributed to the increased numbers, but not enough to skew the bottom line.

“The primary reason is there is still rising anti-Muslim sentiment, and Islamaphobia is becoming more institutionalized,” Iftikhar said. “You hear a lot more anti-Muslim rhetoric in media outlets, and Muslim-bashing has sort of become the acceptable racism in this country now.”

New Jersey has the fifth-largest Arab-American population in the United States, with an estimated 240,000 Arab-Americans, according to a census analysis by the Washington D.C.-based Arab American Institute. New Jersey’s Arab-American Diaspora includes people of many different religions, and the state is also home to several non-Arab populations of Muslim faith.

Amal Elrafei, who works at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee in Clifton, said the recent CAIR findings reflected her own experience with racial profiling this summer.

Elrafei, an American citizen, was returning from her native Egypt with her three children in August when she said she was detained with more than 200 other passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.


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