Despite educational outreach programs, sensitivity training and cross-cultural soul searching in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, a recent report has found anti-Muslim bias attacks are at an all-time high.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nationwide nonprofit Islamic civil liberties organization, showed a nearly 30 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents between 2004 and 2005, the highest number of complaints since the group started compiling statistics more than a decade ago.
The report, released in late September, found 80 percent of the complaints concentrated in just eight states and the District of Columbia....
"The primary reason is there is still rising anti-Muslim sentiment, and Islamaphobia is becoming more institutionalized," [Arsalan Iftikhar, CAIR's national legal director,] said. "You hear a lot more anti-Muslim rhetoric in media outlets, and Muslim-bashing has sort of become the acceptable racism in this country now."
Amal Elrafei, who works at the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee in Clifton, said the recent CAIR findings reflected her own experience with racial profiling this summer.
Elrafei, an American citizen, was returning from her native Egypt with her three children in August when she said she was detained with more than 200 other passengers at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The group was held for more than four hours, with no information as to why they were being detained and no access to phones to contact worried family members waiting outside, according to Elrafei. Elrafei said it was the offensive way she and others were treated by airport security officials who prompted her to file a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
"There were two components to my complaint," she said. "The first one is the actual regulations that would require us to be stopped and profiled, and the other is what those officers did with the power that they had. They were very disrespectful. They were insolent. They didn't even give us our basic rights as human beings." [Link]
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