A report released today by a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group indicates that anti-Muslim incidents in the United States increased by almost 70 percent in 2003.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) report – the only annual study of its kind – outlines 1019 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2003, the highest number of Muslim civil rights cases ever recorded by the Washington-based group. According to the report, called “Unpatriotic Acts,” hate crimes alone jumped by an unprecedented 121 percent.
CAIR said factors contributing to the sharp increase in reported incidents included a lingering atmosphere of post-9/11 fear in America, pro-war rhetoric leading up to and following last year’s invasion of Iraq, a disturbing increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric, and abuses associated with the implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act.
An executive summary of the report and an order form for the complete study are available online at: http://www.cair-net.org/asp/crr2004.asp
The report recommends a number of actions designed to help reverse the tide of anti-Muslim discrimination. These recommendations include a public inquiry to post-9/11 policies impacting the Muslim community, legislative actions to curb the use of profiling by law enforcement agencies, strengthening of hate crime prosecutions, and modifications to the USA PATRIOT Act.
Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim in Arizona, New York, California, and New Jersey experienced the greatest increase in reported incidents, ranging from a jump of 233 (Calif.) to 584 percent (Ariz.). Along with religious and ethnic profiling and denial of religious accommodation, workplace discrimination was the largest category of complaints. California (22 percent), New York (19 percent) and Virginia (7 percent) reported the largest percentage of total complaints. The report does show a significant drop in reports of passenger profiling and unreasonable arrests.
“The disturbing jump in reports of anti-Muslim incidents is a wake-up call to those commentators who use their public positions to spread anti-Muslim hate,” said CAIR Research Director Dr. Mohamed Nimer, the report’s author.
In response to a recent surge in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide, CAIR launched a “Hate Hurts America” campaign designed to counter Islam-bashing on radio talk shows.
CAIR began documenting anti-Muslim incidents following the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The council is America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, with 26 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada.