WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 23, 2011) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations and the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender today released a report based on available data and interviews with experts that documents growing Islamophobia in the United States and offers recommendations about how to challenge the troubling phenomenon.
The groundbreaking report – titled “Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States 2009-2010” – offers a definition of Islamophobia as a “close-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims” and an overview of its growing negative impact in the United States. After defining the term, the report states: “It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes.”
Special sections in the report focus on the manufactured controversy over the Park 51 Islamic community center in Manhattan, the 2010 Oklahoma ballot initiative targeting Islamic principles (Sharia) and Islamophobia in the 2010 elections.
“This report shows that Americans who embrace pluralism must act together to prevent Islamophobia from being accepted in mainstream society,” said CAIR National Legislative Director Corey Saylor, one of the report’s co-authors. “Islamophobia is the new face of an old hate that has targeted minorities throughout our nation’s history.”
Saylor quoted from the report’s executive summary: “CAIR’s vision regarding Islamophobia in America looks toward the time when being Muslim carries a positive connotation and Islam has an equal place among many faiths in America’s pluralistic society.”
He said report lists the “worst” Islamophobes and the “best” of those pushing back against growing anti-Muslim sentiment in American society and presents an initial set of recommendations for Muslims and Americans of other faiths to challenge Islamophobia.
Those commended for pushing back against Islamophobia include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, among others.
Those listed as actively promoting Islamophobia included Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, co-founders of the anti-Muslim hate group Stop the Islamization of America(SIOA); Act! for America leader Brigitte Gabriel; and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda were also listed as sources of Islamophobia.
Recommendations in this first annual report are directed toward American Muslims and their institutions. The report states: “This is a reflection of our belief that American Muslims must take the lead in pushing back against Islamophobia. . .In a future report, we will offer recommendations to the public and private sectors.”
The recommendations for American Muslims include being an example to others of the “Islamic traditions of patience and reason,” being active in community and political activities, promoting volunteerism, and strengthening outreach to law enforcement authorities.
Suggestions are offered for to all those “who wish to help rid our country of Islamophobia and other forms of intolerance,” including passing legislation banning racial profiling, speaking out strongly against smearing entire faiths or peoples and refusing to offer a legitimizing platform to those who spout anti-Muslim bigotry or Islamophobia.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.