WASHINGTON (ABP) — Incidents of anti-Muslim bias in 2003 jumped 70 percent over the previous year, a study by an Islamic civil-rights group says.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations released its ninth annual civil-rights report May 3. CAIR, which calls itself the nation's “largest Islamic civil-liberties group,” said Muslims in the United States reported 1,019 incidents of discrimination or violence in 2003. That figure is up from 602 incidents reported to the group in 2002, although the group acknowledged the 2003 total may reflect a higher rate of reporting.
Among the incidents were 93 reported hate crimes — more than double the 2002 figure. Many of the other incidents included reports of employment discrimination or discriminatory treatment by government officials or in public accommodations. Many of the reports involved verbal harassment or other incidents that could not be independently verified.
CAIR attributed some of the increase in reports it has received to the fact that the organization has grown over the past year and thus is more visible and accessible to Muslims in the U.S. However, it also blamed several other factors:
— A “lingering atmosphere of fear” toward Muslims since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks;
— Anti-Muslim feelings stirred by the war in Iraq;
— The implementation of the USA Patriot Act, passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, which curtailed some protections for civil liberties in order to make it easier for law enforcement to stop terrorists; and
— A “noticeable increase of anti-Muslim rhetoric” in the nation's public discourse, particularly on talk radio.
“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 Mohamed Nimer, who authored the report.
However, the report did suggest that efforts by government agencies to weed out anti-Muslim bias since 2001 have met with some success. For instance, reports of airline passenger profiling on the basis of religion dropped significantly as compared to 2002, as did reports of unreasonable arrest, search and seizure based on religious profiling.
The organization began compiling annual reports on anti-Muslim bias in 1995, following the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The reports showed sharp spikes in reports of anti-Muslim incidents after 2001.