A prominent U.S. Islamic civil rights group has released a study showing a significant increase in the total number of complaints of anti-Muslim bias in the United States between 2004 and 2005.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released its annual study outlining nearly 2,000 incidents of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment in 2005, the highest number of such cases in the United States ever recorded by the organization.
The executive director of the group, Nihad Awad, says, since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the number of such complaints has continued to grow. "We have witnessed, one more time, an increase in the anti-Muslim discrimination, hate crimes and bias," said Awad. "This is due, in our research and understanding, to the negative and politically charged climate against American Muslims, and Islam in general."
The study says CAIR received 153 reports of anti-Muslim hate crime complaints during 2005, a nearly nine percent increase from the previous year.
The organization says the increase is due to the lingering impact of the September 11 attacks, increased awareness of civil rights issues in the Muslim community and what the group says is a general increase in anti-Muslim sentiment in American society.
"Pretty consistently, what we are seeing is a rise in the level of anti-Muslim rhetoric in our society, unfortunately," said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR's national communications director. "I think that is fed by two main sources: The Internet, where we are seeing just a flood of hate rhetoric on the Internet, and also on talk radio. You can't turn on a talk radio station nowadays without hearing very negative, bigoted comments about Islam on a daily basis."
CAIR, which is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has started several initiatives to decrease anti-Muslim prejudice. The organization coordinated the release of a fatwa, or Islamic religious ruling, condemning terrorism and extremism that was endorsed by more than 300 U.S. Muslim groups.
Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper says his group has enjoyed good cooperation from U.S. federal law enforcement agencies when it reports complaints about anti-Muslim activity. "We have to congratulate the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation] and the Justice Department," said Hooper. "Whenever we bring a case to them they do a very good job. They do it quickly, they do it professionally and they do it to the best of their ability. Whenever there is a mosque vandalism, or somebody is stabbed, or attacked, or whatever, they do a very good job [investigating]. So they have to be congratulated on that."
CAIR estimates there are about seven million Muslims in the United States, which has a total population of nearly 300 million.
The group says its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, and protect civil liberties while promoting justice and mutual understanding.