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Muslim Group Reports Jump in Workplace Bias Complaints

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 9/24/2008) – A report released today by a prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group shows an increase in American Muslim complaints of workplace bias in 2007.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) report, called “Without Fear of Discrimination,” outlines 2,652 incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2007. That is the highest number of civil rights cases ever recorded in the Washington-based group’s report – the only annual study of its kind. (Note: The higher number of cases is due in part to inclusion of a new category of cases related to mailed, faxed and e-mailed hate messages. Without the inclusion of those cases, the total number of cases dipped slightly over the previous year.)
According to the study, discrimination in the workplace against those already employed increased by 18 percent, with 384 cases reported in 2006 and 452 cases reported in 2007. There was also a 34 percent increase in reports of discrimination against those seeking employment. Cases involving denial of religious accommodation in the workplace jumped eight percent.
Since its founding in 1994, one of the main categories of CAIR’s work has been employment discrimination and religious accommodation issues in the workplace. One of the most recent cases CAIR is dealing with involves religious accommodation for Muslim workers at JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plants in Colorado and Nebraska. Another recent case involved allegations of a new “English-only” policy for Somali Muslim workers at a Macy’s department store in Minnesota.
SEE: Muslim Group Tries Mediation in Lunch Break Spat

SEE ALSO: Macy’s Case Highlights Confusion Over English-Only Rules (NPR)

CAIR offers a booklet called “An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices” to help corporate managers gain a better understanding of Islam and Muslims in the workplace.
SEE: An Employer’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices

Reports of passenger profiling jumped from 32 in 2006 to 141 in 2007, a 340 percent increase.
Some categories in the CAIR report showed a decrease in the number of cases. Incidents of anti-Muslim hate crimes went down by 19 percent in this year’s report. Incidents at schools or involving the police also decreased 31 percent and 42 percent respectively.
Marked decreases in cases involving due process issues (45 percent), physical violence (24 percent), denials of service or access (48 percent), and verbal harassment (35 percent) were also recorded.
Nine states and the District of Columbia accounted for almost 80 percent of all civil rights complaints to CAIR in 2007. The states include: California, Illinois, Florida, New York, Virginia, New Jersey, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.
Consistent with previous years, an individual’s ethnicity, associations, religion, or “Muslim name” remained the primary factors that triggered discrimination. These factors are believed to have triggered 86 percent of the total cases reported to CAIR last year.
CAIR said the decrease in reports of hate crimes and reports of discrimination by police and in schools during 2007 allows “a note of cautious optimism.” The report also concluded: “Some government agencies appear to be benefiting from an emphasis on cultural proficiency for employees who may deal with Muslims.”
Recommendations based on this year’s data included asking elected representatives, public officials and candidates for elected office to “clearly condemn anti-Islam bias in our society” and urging American Muslim groups to “continue to maintain regular contacts with law enforcement agencies at the national, state and local levels.” The report also urged the passage of legislation banning racial, religious or ethnic profiling.
To view the entire report, click here.

“The year’s report is a somewhat positive indication that the growing anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society is being rejected by ordinary Americans of all faiths,” said CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor, the report’s author.
Saylor said this year’s report includes a special section on “Anti-Muslim Remarks and Acts on the Presidential Campaign Trail.” Last week, CAIR filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) over the distribution of some 28 million anti-Muslim DVDs in presidential election swing states.
SEE: Muslim Group Seeks Probe of ‘Radical Islam’ DVD (AP)

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 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor, 202-384-8857; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, E-Mail:


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