Los Angeles , CA : The California office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR -CA) announced on December 14 the release of its annual report that shows an increase in the total number of verbal harassment and employment discrimination incidents, but a decrease in passenger profiling in 2008.
The report titled “The Status of Muslim Civil Rights, California 2009” - the only annual study of its kind - offers a summary of incidents and experiences of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and harassment reported to the group during the 2008 calendar year. It also ex amines the use of Islamophobic rhetoric in last year’s presidential election and highlights a number of issues of concern to the American Muslim community, including watch lists, surveillance of mosques and new FBI guidelines that allow religious and ethnic profiling.
To view the report, see http://ca.cair.com/losangeles/civil_rights/
To view the national report, “Seeking Full Inclusion,” issued by the organization’s Washington DC-based office, see: http://www.cair.com/Portals/0/pdf/CAIR-2009-Civil-Rights-Report.pdf
In California, a total of 480 incident reports were received, which represent a 13 percent decrease over the previous year (553 reports received in 2007). Across the nation, California along with eight other states and the DC office accounted for 79 percent of all incidents reported to CAIR in 2008. CAIR offices nationwide processed a total of 2,728 incidents in 2008. That figure represents a three percent increase in reported cases from 2007 (2,652 reports) and an 11 percent increase over cases reported in 2006 (2,467 reports).
According to CAIR -CA’s study:
* The number of civil rights complaints in the category of legal/immigration issues marked the largest percentage of all cases reported to CAIR -CA, at 29 percent. However, there was also a 35 percent decrease in this category from the previous year, 2007.
* In 2008, there was a reported decrease in the categories of hate mail/propaganda/internet as well as passenger profiling in California. Nationally, however, alleged hate mail/propaganda/Internet abuse was the most common type of complaint reported and showed a 38 percent jump from 2007.
* Compared to 2007, complaints in the areas of verbal harassment, employment discrimination, and the denial of religious accommodation represented the highest increases — at 41 percent, 19 percent, and 12 percent respectively.
“Although we are pleased to see a decline in the number of immigration and legal complaints reported to our office — thanks to community education and improved government policy — we remain concerned about the pervasive anti-Muslim climate in our country, fueled by a fringe racist minority,” said Affad Shaikh , civil rights manager for CAIR -Greater Los Angeles Area.
Shaikh said the report also offers recommendations such as urging elected officials and community leaders to speak out more forcefully against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim incidents, encouraging employers to institute sensitivity trainings to ensure that religious practices of all Americans are reasonably accommodated, and encouraging Congressional inquiries and Inspector general’s reports to be further utilized to ensure that Americans’ civil rights are respected and protected.
Recommendations for the American Muslim community include timely reporting of anti-Muslim incidents, community empowerment through civic engagement and continued outreach to local and national law enforcement agencies.
CAIR began documenting anti-Muslim incidents following the 1995 attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, when some commentators initially blamed Muslims for the bombing. Before the real perpetrators were identified, Muslims nationwide were targeted in bias incidents.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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. CAIR -CA offices serve Greater Los Angeles Area, Sacramento Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego communities.