Anti-Muslim incidents up 15 percent in past year
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 15 percent over the previous year. (Numbers rose from 525 confirmed incidents in the 2002 report to 602 in this year’s study.) The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) report – the only annual study of its kind – details incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment during the past year.
CAIR’s report covers the period from January 1, 2002, to December 31, 2002. Excerpts and an order form for the complete report are available online at: http://www.cair-net.org/asp/crr2003.asp
In addition to the direct acts of discrimination and violence, the report looks at the impact of post-9/11 government polices, usually related to the USA Patriot Act, that have had a negative impact on American Muslim civil liberties. Those government actions featured in the report include the March 2002 raids on Muslim families and businesses in Virginia and Georgia, the Special Registration program for Muslim visa-holders, and the “voluntary” interviews conducted with thousands of Iraqi-Americans. The report also outlined the increase in Islamophobic rhetoric by evangelical leaders such as Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
The largest number of incidents were reported by Muslims in California, Florida, Virginia, New York, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, and Maryland. Along with religious and ethnic profiling, workplace discrimination was one of the largest categories of complaints.
“More than any other year, the daily experiences of Muslims in schools, the workplace, airports, and in encounters with the courts, police and other government agencies included incidents in which they were singled out because of actual or perceived religious and ethnic identity,” said CAIR Research Director Dr. Mohamed Nimer, the report’s author. Nimer said anti-Muslim sentiment related to the 9/11 terror attacks was cited in a number of cases.
“While this report indicates that government policies are part of the problem, the government can also be part of the solution by refusing to succumb to the siren song of religious and ethnic profiling,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.
Awad noted CAIR offices around the country have been working in close cooperation with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies through town hall meetings, sensitivity training sessions and even joint-news conferences on security-related issues. He also said Muslims must become more involved in political and social activities at the local level through voter registration, coalition building and community service.
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 16 regional offices nationwide and in Canada.