Citizenship Delays Were
Top Issue for US Muslims in 2006
Washington, DC: A report released June 14 by a prominent
national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group indicates
a 25 percent increase in the total number of complaints
of anti-Muslim bias from 2005 to 2006, with citizenship
delays being the major issue.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations' (CAIR) report
- the only annual study of its kind - outlines 2,467 incidents
and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination
and harassment in 2006, the highest number of civil rights
cases ever recorded in the Washington-based group's report.
(Hundreds of anti-Muslim incidents reported immediately
following the 9/11 attacks were detailed in a separate report.)
According to the study, called "Presumption of Guilt,"
that total is a 25.1 percent increase over the preceding
year's total of 1,972 cases. One of the most significant
increases is in the category dealing with government agencies,
which rose sharply from 19.22 percent of total reports in
2005 to 36.32 percent in 2006. This increase was due primarily
to the number of cases related to immigration issues such
as citizenship and naturalization delays.
CAIR also received 167 reports of anti-Muslim hate crime
complaints, a 9.2 percent increase from the 153 complaints
received in 2005.
Nine states and the District of Columbia accounted for almost
81 percent of all civil rights complaints to CAIR in 2006.
They include (in descending order): California (29 percent),
Illinois (13 percent), District of Columbia (7 percent),
Florida (7 percent), Texas (6 percent), New York (5 percent),
Virginia (4 percent), Michigan (3 percent), New Jersey (3
percent) and Ohio (3 percent).
This year, most categories of reported cases remained relatively
unchanged from last year's report. There were a few decreases,
in both real and proportional terms, in certain categories
from the previous year. For example, civil rights complaints
involving the workplace declined significantly from 25.41
percent in 2005 to 15.57 percent in 2006.
In the report, CAIR offers public policy recommendations
to address anti-Muslim sentiments in American society. Those
recommendations include: 1) asking elected representatives
and religious and community leaders to speak out strongly
against Islamophobia and to repudiate anti-Muslim bigots,
2) urging American Muslims to increase outreach and education
efforts, 3) holding congressional hearings on the rising
level of Islamophobia in America, 4) expediting the processing
of citizenship/naturalization applications, and 5) adopting
domestic and foreign polices that reflect American traditions
of justice and respect for the human dignity of all people.
To view the entire report, go to:
"Like the history of other minority groups in America,
the experience of the American Muslim community after the
tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is seen by many as
the next chapter in American civil rights history,"
said CAIR Legal Director Arsalan Iftikhar, the report's
author. "The findings in this report should serve as
a reminder that discrimination is still a major issue in
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 33 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.