Islamophobia Continues to Haunt US Muslims

Last December, the US House of Representatives voted to approve a Democratic proposal for a U.S. State Department office to address anti-Muslim bias, after a Republican congresswoman used an Islamophobic slur against a Democratic colleague.

The House backed the bill in a party-line vote of 219-212 after a Republican congresswoman used an Islamophobic slur against a Democratic colleague.

The bill, authored by Representative Ilhan Omar, is believed to create a special envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia and include state-sponsored anti-Muslim violence in the department’s annual human rights reports.

However, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group has recently revealed that discrimination against Muslims in the US increased by 9% in 2021 compared to the previous year.

Officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference to release the findings of the report, titled “Still Suspect: The Impact of Structural Islamophobia.”

According to the report, CAIR received 6,720 complaints nationwide last year involving a range of issues including immigration, travel discrimination, law enforcement and government overreach, hate and bias incidents, custody rights, school incidents and free speech incidents.

“This represents the highest number of cases reported to CAIR in 27 years. This milestone is alarming,” said CAIR’s National Executive Director Nihad Awad at the press conference.

Awad noted that the report speaks for itself, adding “Islamophobia is structural and deep in our society.”

“Islamophobia has become mainstream in America. It made its way into the government institutions and public sphere through laws, policies, political rhetoric and other manifestations,” he added.

The report found that there was a 55% increase in law enforcement and government overreach complaints in 2021, while there was a 28% increase in hate and bias incidents that included the forcible removal of the hijab, or Muslim headscarf, harassment, vandalism and physical assaults.

Awad believes the US government can be part of the solution in curbing Islamophobia.

“We urge today Congress to adopt legislation making federal funding for local law enforcement agencies contingent on those agencies documenting and reporting hate crimes to the FBI’s national database. This would offer an incentive for local law enforcement to take the threat of Islamophobia seriously,” he added.

In a breakdown, the group received 2,823 immigration and travel-related complaints, 745 workplace discrimination complaints, 553 denial of public accommodation complaints, 679 law enforcement and government overreach complaints, 308 hate and bias incidents related complaints, 278 complaints over incarceration rights, 177 complaints over school incidents, 56 anti-BDS free speech complaints and 1,101 general complaints.

Commenting on the report, Kevin Singer, co-founder and director of Neighborly Faith which works to bring Christians and Muslims together across America, expressed deep concern over the findings, saying that Muslims are a good example of social coherence.

The number of complaints of discrimination against Muslims is increasing, he added.

There were 7,759 reported hate crimes in the U.S. last year — the most in 12 years, the FBI reported this week. But some experts and advocacy groups say the true number is probably even higher.

The sudden increase in reported hate crimes against Asian people was attributed in part to the scapegoating of the Asian community for the emergence of COVID-19, which originated in China and which former President Donald Trump called the “Chinese virus.”

The FBI defines a hate crime as an offense that is motivated at least in part by a bias against a victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.

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