The Washington Post, July 16, 2003
By Caryle Murphy, Washington Post Staff Writer
Muslims living in the United States were the target of more than 600 alleged incidents of discrimination, harassment and violence in 2002, a 15 percent increase over the previous year, according to a report released yesterday by a Washington-based Islamic advocacy organization.
The annual report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations is based on complaints from Muslims who call the council.
Of the 602 incidents that the council recorded in 2002, 42 — or 7 percent — involved violence against people or property. The most common types of anti-Muslim incidents were alleged employment discrimination (17 percent) and verbal harassment (15 percent), followed by failure to accommodate religious practices (13 percent), passenger profiling in airports (12 percent) and discriminatory action by government agents, including “unreasonable arrest, detention, surveillance [and] search” (12 percent), the report said.
“The fallout from September 11 continues to impact Muslim daily life, whether at schools, in the workplace or in general public encounters,” the report said. “Mistreatment at the hand of federal government personnel,” it added, “continues to be reported in substantial numbers.”
The report, however, noted improvements in the area of airline passenger profiling, which dropped to 12 percent of all incidents from the previous year’s 24 percent, and in “unreasonable detention, search and interrogation” by law enforcement authorities, which fell to 12 percent from 19 percent.
The council’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said at a news conference that members of the Muslim community feel “that they have been let down by this administration” because President Bush, during the 2000 presidential campaign, had criticized civil rights abuses against Muslims, particularly passenger profiling at airports and the use of secret evidence in courts.
“The government should look at the Muslim community as an ally in the war on terrorism and not blacklist it,” Awad said.
“Guilt by Association,” the council’s eighth annual report on Muslim civil rights, covers January through December 2002. The council’s 2002 report, which covered mid-March 2001 to mid-March 2002, noted 32 reported incidents of violence against Muslims, or 6 percent of the 525 complaints that year. Its 2001 report, covering mid-March 2000 through mid-March 2001, cited 14 violent incidents, or nearly 4 percent of the total of 366 incidents.
Mohamed Nimer, the council’s director of research who supervised the report, cited anti-Muslim statements by some Christian evangelical leaders and conservative commentators as contributing to the increase in anti-Muslim incidents in 2002.
Virginia ranked third, after Florida and California, in the number of incidents reported last year. Maryland tied with Texas for seventh place, and the District tied with New Jersey for ninth place.