2009 Civil Rights Report: Seeking Full Inclusion

Executive Summary

For the 2008 calendar year, CAIR and its affiliate chapters processed a total of 2,728 civil rights complaints.

This number represents a 3 percent increase in reported cases from 2007 (2,652 reports) and an 11 percent increase over cases reported in 2006 (2,467 reports).

The occurrence of reported civil rights complaints continues to increase at mosques and Muslim organizations, rising from 221 cases in 2006 to 564 cases in 2007 10 to 721 cases in 2008. This represents a 28 percent increase from 2007 to 2008. There were 118 reported cases of discrimination in schools in 2007 and 153 in 2008. This represents a 31 percent increase.

Anti-Muslim hate crime complaints fell by 14 percent this year, decreasing from 135 total complaints in 2007 to 116 in 2008.

Observing a second year’s decline in reported hate crimes, CAIR reaffirms its cautious optimism that America may be witnessing a leveling-off of the post-9/11 backlash against Americans of the Islamic faith. This development is most welcome.

At the same time, the reported increases in incidents at Muslim institutions and at schools remind us that continued vigilance, education and assertive efforts to combat bigotry are necessary.

The 2008 election showed an emerging trend toward mainstream willingness to reject Islamophobia. As this report illustrates, this trend is tempered by the reality that powerful influencers can use the false premise that “friendliness to Muslims equals weakness on national security” to troubling effect.

The government’s ability to conduct surveillance without adequate oversight or control has expanded and shows no immediate sign of contracting. Near unchecked expansion of watch lists strongly contributes to the “flying while Muslim” phenomenon. As reported, last minute alterations to the Attorney General’s Guidelines allow for investigative “assessments” of individuals or groups without any accompanying factual predicate. This, along with less oversight and profiling factors having a role in investigations, sounds a warning bell for those concerned about civil liberties.