Ashley Gipson, Religion News Service, 9/25/08
As published in USA Today
WASHINGTON — Anti-Muslim discrimination reached an all-time high in 2007, according to a report released Wednesday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
The District of Columbia and just nine other states account for 80% of the civil rights complaints. California leads with one in five complaints, followed by Washington, D.C., and Illinois. The prime factors for discrimination are an individual's ethnicity, religion or "Muslim name," according the report.
The report said incidents of due-process issues, physical violence, denials of service or access, and verbal harassment decreased last year, but passenger profiling reports increased by 340%. Claims of workplace discrimination increased by 18%, the report said.
The council recently got involved in a case of religious accommodation for workers at JBS Swift & Co. meatpacking plants, and has produced a pamphlet entitled "An Employer's Guide to Islamic Religious Practices" for distribution.
Corey Saylor, CAIR's national legislative director and author of the report, said the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes — defined as any crime against property or person where the victim is selected because of a perceived faith — decreased in 2007.
"We are cautiously optimistic," said Saylor. "We hope the wave of anti-Muslim hate crimes we've seen through the years is starting to level off."
Given the results of this year's report, Saylor recommended asking elected officials and other public officials to condemn anti-Muslim bias.
"When authority figures are sending positive messages about Islam," he said, "we find that people are less inclined to go out and commit anti-Muslim discrimination."