Anti-Muslim Discrimination Up, Hate Crimes Down


By: Omar Sacirbey (RNS) Muslim Americans faced more anti-Muslim bias but fewer physical assaults in 2008, according to a report released Thursday (Dec. 3) by the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“In 2008, Muslims continued to face barriers to their full and equal participation in American society. Certain individuals and institutions persisted in profiting by smearing Islam,” CAIR’s annual civil rights report said. “American Muslims continued to fear profiling, surveillance and undue scrutiny by law enforcement and other authorities.”

According to the study, CAIR recorded 2,728 incidents of anti-Muslim discrimination or bias in 2008—an increase of 3 percent from 2007. So-called hate crimes—incidents involving threats or physical violence—fell 14 percent, from 135 to 116.

CAIR also expressed concern about government surveillance of Muslims and mosques, profiling, and worries that many politicians were willing to play on public fears about Muslims, and equate tolerance of Muslims with weakness on national security.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper acknowledged the increase in reported incidents could be attributed to greater Muslim American organization and less timidity about seeking help from law enforcement or civil rights groups. Still, he said Islamophobia persists.

“There is an increasingly vocal minority of Muslim bashers who are promoting hate and trying to marginalize Muslims, and they are having an impact,” said Hooper.

Almost 31 percent of the complaints stemmed from hate mail and Internet abuse; 21 percent related to legal discrimination; and more than 12 percent stemmed from job discrimination. Skin color, headscarves and Muslim names were among the factors that triggered discrimination, CAIR said.

More than a quarter of the incidents happened at mosques or buildings belonging to Islamic organizations; 23 percent happened at government agencies, and 18 percent happened in the workplace.

In the report, CAIR urged President Obama to visit a major American mosque, and asked the Justice Department to revise FBI guidelines they say allow the use of informants in mosques, and encourage religious profiling.

Religion NewsRichard Potts