US Muslims Victims of Bigotry, Report Says

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - With overseas conflicts involving Islamic populations attracting more attention, American Muslims complain they are increasingly the target of harassment, even in the workplace.

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), pointing to what it calls a state of "Islamophobia" in the U.S., recently released a report entitled, "Accommodating Diversity: The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the United States."

The group documented 366 cases in which American Muslims were allegedly discriminated because of their Islamic religion.

According to the report, American Muslims complained about everything from being harassed as potential terrorists to employers firing Muslim employees for refusing to remove their Islamic clothing. Companies often target Muslim employees for disparate treatment according to CAIR Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.

The report alleges that incidents of religious discrimination against Muslims rose by 15 percent since the last report on acts of bias against American Muslims was released in 2000.

According to Hooper, the increase in reported cases of anti-Islamic harassment and discrimination can be attributed to the fact there are, "more Muslims in the workplace and in schools [as well as] in society in general, [and] there is more awareness that these things can be challenged."

The report also includes numerous specific incidents of anti-Islamic discrimination.

"In professional occupations, Muslim employees often complained about [the lack of] job promotion. Muslim college students often complained that their freedom of speech had been violated and that Islam was misrepresented in textbooks chosen by schools and instructors," the CAIR report said.

Religious discrimination laws in the United States are seldom observed, according to CAIR, creating an environment in which "many practicing Muslim employees often face the choice between job and religion, as anti-discrimination laws are not self-enforcing."

Anti-Islamic bias has not been confined to the workplace either, according to the CAIR report.

"[Reports] also [have] included cases of college students who were physically attacked and those who had their posters, expressing [their] opinions on the Middle East conflict, torn down," the report stated.

Anti-Islamic prejudice even affects non-Muslims who are perceived as being Muslim, such as Christian Arabs, Hooper said.

"We have even had calls from Sikhs who have been discriminated against because people have perceived the turbans to mean that they were Muslims," he said.

CAIR also complained that B'nai Brith International is perpetuating anti-Islamic bigotry by denying the existence of "Islamophobia" and other forms of Islamic prejudice.

"This is strange coming from a group that justifiably decries anti-Semitism, [and] why this group would choose to deny problems experienced by others is beyond me, unless they are trying to defend their market share of victimization," Hooper said.

B'nai Brith International representatives did not respond to numerous phone calls seeking comment.