2005 Civil Rights Report: Unequal Protection

Executive Summary

Nearly four years removed from the 9/11 terror attacks, the greatest tragedy to befall our nation in modern history, our country has learned certain lessons that will hopefully lead us to a stronger, safer and more vibrant society for people of all races, faiths and cultures.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the most disturbing legal trend is the growing disparity in how American Muslims are being treated under the law on many different levels.

In order to fully understand the status of civil rights in the post-9/11 era, it is essential that this report offer a documented historical overview of major federal law enforcement initiatives, high-profile national cases and statistical evidence of anti-Muslim discrimination in CAIR candlelight vigil commemorating 9/11 victims the United States, particularly those incidents that occurred during the last calendar year of 2004.

In 2004, CAIR processed a total of 1,522 incident reports of civil rights cases compared to 1,019 cases reported to CAIR in 2003. This constitutes a 49 percent increase in the reported cases of harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment from 2003 and marks the highest number of Muslim civil rights cases ever reported to CAIR in our eleven year history.

In addition, CAIR received 141 reports of actual and potential violent anti-Muslim hate crimes, a 52 percent increase from the 93 reports received in 2003.

Overall, 10 states alone accounted for almost 79 percent of all reported incidents to CAIR in 2004. These ten states include: California (20.17%), New York (10.11%), Arizona (9.26%), Virginia (7.16%), Texas (6.83%), Florida (6.77%), Ohio (5.32%), Maryland (5.26%), New Jersey (4.53%) and Illinois (2.96%).

There have also been decreases, both in real and proportional terms, in certain categories from the previous year as well. For example, workplace discrimination complaints to CAIR constituted nearly 23 percent of complaints in 2003. In 2004, the number of workplace discrimination complaints decreased to almost 18 percent of the total complaints.

In addition, complaints involving governmental agencies decreased from 29 percent in 2003 to 19 percent in 2004. Internet harassment of American Muslims also decreased from 7 percent of total complaints in 2003 to less than 1 percent of total reported complaints in 2004.

By far the greatest increase from last year, in both real and proportional terms, occurred in the area of unreasonable arrests, detentions, searches/seizures and interrogations.

In 2003, complaints concerning law enforcement techniques accounted for only 7 percent of all reported incidents. In 2004, however, these reports rose to almost 26 percent of all reported cases to CAIR.

Although not a scientific study, there are several factors which may have contributed to the increase in total number of reports to CAIR over the past year. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • An ongoing and lingering atmosphere of fear since the September 11 attacks against American Muslims, Arabs and South Asians.
  • The growing use of anti-Muslim rhetoric by some local and national opinion leaders.
  • Local Muslim communities, through the opening of new CAIR chapters and regional offices, now have more mechanisms to monitor and report incidents to CAIR at the grassroots level.
  • Following the infamous legacy of the USA PATRIOT Act, other federal legislation and policies which severely infringe on the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans continue to be passed.
  • Increased public awareness about civil liberties and the impact of federal law enforcement initiatives on constitutional and civil rights.

In our conclusion, CAIR recommends that further congressional inquiries, inspector general reports from federal agencies and impact litigation continue to be used to ensure that the civil and legal rights of all Americans are never placed in jeopardy again.