Last year marked the highest number of Muslim civil rights cases ever recorded by CAIR’s annual report on the status of Muslim civil rights in the United States. Reports of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment increased nearly 70 percent over 2002 (the year after the 9/11 terror attacks). This represents a three-fold increase since the reporting year preceding the terrorist attacks.
Although reports of abuse in areas of passenger profiling and unreasonable arrest, search and seizure have dropped significantly, incidents of hate crime have more than doubled. Also, allegations of mistreatment by federal and local law enforcement personnel (including profiling and discriminatory application of the law) accounted for a third of all reports, the highest record ever in real and proportionate terms.
Five factors contributed to the sharp increase in reported incidents:
- A lingering atmosphere of fear since the 9/11 attacks.
- The war in Iraq and the atmosphere created by the pro-war rhetoric.
- The noticeable increase of anti-Muslim rhetoric, which often painted Muslims as followers of a false religion and as enemies of America.
- The USA PATRIOT Act, the implementation of which has been associated with abuses.
- Increased reporting by community members, due to the increase in the number of CAIR offices, allowing more cases to be documented in 2003 than in previous years.
CAIR recommends a number of governmental actions be taken in order to stem the rise of anti-Muslim discrimination. These recommendations include a call for a public inquiry to post-9/11 policies impacting the Muslim community and a call for implementing reforms suggested by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice regarding post-9/11 investigations and detentions. Also, a number of legislative actions are suggested to curb the use of profiling in law enforcement, strengthen hate crime prosecutions and end abuses associated with the USA PATRIOT Act.