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Anti-Muslim bias reports skyrocket after Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel

CAIR says the largest number of anti-Muslim bias reports involved employment discrimination, including companies saying they wouldn't hire people who participated in pro-Palestinian rallies.
ALLISON BAILEY
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Middle East Images/AFP via Getty
CAIR says the largest number of anti-Muslim bias reports involved employment discrimination, including companies saying they wouldn't hire people who participated in pro-Palestinian rallies.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released its annual Civil Rights Report today. The organization says that last year it received the highest number anti-Muslim bias complaints ever.

CAIR says it took in 8,061 bias reports in 2023 and that nearly half of them came in the final three months of the year, following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

"I was stunned by the sheer volume of complaints we got," says Corey Saylor, CAIR'S Director of Research and Advocacy.

"In 2022, our numbers showed the first ever drop since we started tracking incidents," he says. "And then to see all of that erased, it's real insight in to how easy it is for someone to just flip the Islamophobia switch back to on."

The report, titled "Fatal: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate," says 15% of complaints the group received involved employment bias. 8.5% of bias reports involved schools — including colleges and universities. And 7.5% of complaints involved allegations of hate crimes, including the case of 6-year-old Palestinian American Wadea Al-Fayoume who was allegedly stabbed to death by his family's landlord near Chicago.

"I just don't know how much hate it takes to drive an adult to target a child," says Saylor. "And I think it's also fair to say that hate did not originate last October."

Prosecutors in that case have charged suspect Joseph Czuba with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing the child's mother during the attack as well. Authorities have also charged Czuba with two counts of hate crimes.

Additionally, the CAIR report highlights a controversy highlights a controversy in Maryland's Montgomery County Public Schools. The district allows parents to opt out of a Family Life and Human Sexuality unit, but it does not allow parents to opt out of books assigned for English classes that portray LGBTQ+ characters. A number of Muslim parents protested, saying the books were not in line with their religion's teachings.

"The sincerely held religious beliefs of parents were completely ignored, disregarded, and even in a couple of instances criticized," says Saylor.

The report also relays the story of how a regional airline accidentally posted to the internet part of the U.S. Government's so-called No Fly List. CAIR's analysis of a downloaded version of the list found that nearly all the names on it – 98.3% — were what the organization calls "identifiably Muslim."

CAIR's report also included mention of some bright spots. In 2023, New York City and Minneapolis permitted the call to prayer to be broadcast over loudspeakers. New Jersey and Georgia began recognizing Muslim Heritage Month. And school districts in at least 6 states added at least one Muslim holiday to academic calendars so students will have the day off from class.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Jason DeRose is the Western Bureau Chief for NPR News, based at NPR West in Culver City. He edits news coverage from Member station reporters and freelancers in California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii. DeRose also edits coverage of religion and LGBTQ issues for the National Desk.