US facing 'worst wave' of anti-Muslim bigotry in 30 years, report finds

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Wednesday, April 3, 2024
US facing 'worst wave' of anti-Muslim bigotry in 30 years: report
The annual report by CAIR found that the U.S. is facing its "worst wave" of anti-Muslim bigotry in 30 years.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR, is the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States. On Tuesday, it released "Fatal: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate," its 2024 civil rights report.

The organization calls it, "the worst wave of anti-Muslim bigotry witnessed in its 30-year history."

"In 2022, CAIR saw a significant drop in complaints. And we were hopeful. That hope was brought to a heartbreaking end in October 2023," says Zahra Billoo. She is the executive director of the Bay Area chapter of CAIR.

Billoo says the Israel-Hamas war set off a huge spike in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian sentiment, as well as hate crimes across the U.S.

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The Bay Area is no different.

"Our data in the San Francisco Bay Area is consistent with the national trends. And unfortunately, in certain instances even worse. We have seen a number of violent crimes in the San Francisco Bay Area," says Billoo. "The three young girls who were assaulted in Monterey. The man who was the target of a hit-and-run at Stanford. And the list goes on."

"In 2023, CAIR reported a 419% increase, reporting 607 complaints of hate crimes or hate incidents," said Farah Afify during a virtual presentation to present the report's findings. She is the research and advocacy Coordinator for CAIR's national office.

CAIR reports that it received over 8,000 complaints, the highest ever in its 30-year history. Even more than after the 2017 Muslim travel ban and the during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan post 9/11.

"Unfortunately, it's an American tradition that when we are at war - including proxy war for example here - where we are funding Israeli military actions, that whichever countries or communities are being attacked abroad, are also dehumanized right here in the United States," says Billoo.

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The report documents employment discrimination, targeting of pro-Palestinian activists and suppressing free speech, and students being bullied. Not just by other students but in some instance, by teachers as well.

"Both the rhetoric has become more hateful. And that that rhetoric has translated into violence of course, as we know in Palestine, but also right here in the San Francisco Bay Area," explains Billoo.

Another big concern is that there is data to suggest that 85% of the Muslim community does not report hate incidents or discrimination, for a wide range of reasons. It may include fear of retaliation, fear of losing their job, or mistrust of law enforcement.

Billoo believes that means despite this new report, the real numbers are likely even higher.

"Part of our work includes continually encourage them to come forward, even if they don't want to don't want to take action, even if they don't want to go public. We can't tell our community's stories without data," she says.

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