Islamophobia Statistics USA

Islamophobia Statistics USA

By Abdul Malik Mujahid

Since the events of September 11, 2001, Muslims and brown-skinned people in this country have been under siege. While tens of thousands have been detained without any probable cause, summarily detained, or have fled in fear, the majority continue to suffer silently. The climate Muslims face today is very much as it was for Americans of Japanese descent during World War II, when Japanese-Americans were rounded up and detained in internment camps.[1]

While we thank God that no attack like that of 9/11 has recurred, anti-Islamic opinion has risen consistently in the last six years in the United States. Today, a majority of our neighbors think very negatively of Islam and Muslims [2] and 22 percent don’t even want a Muslim as their neighbor despite the fact that wherever Muslims live in America, property values go up since they are mostly professionals.[3] Thirty-nine percent of respondents to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll said they favored requiring Muslims, including U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID.[4]

Public policy in this country is driven by public opinion, which ironically is itself driven by public policy.  Public policy and public opinion are both becoming increasingly xenophobic, with utter disregard towards our American constitution, rule of law, civil rights laws and our nation’s human values. The USA Patriot Act was passed the day it was introduced, leaving no lawmaker any time to read its 342 pages. That Act established guilt by association, indefinite detentions without a hearing, secret evidence and secret hearings. Under the special registration program aimed at Muslim visitors to the US, the government fingerprinted and photographed 144,513 Muslims [5].

In addition, the federal government has detained thousands of Muslim citizens and has ordered all law enforcement personnel at local, state and national agencies to stop giving the total number detained.[6] Tens of thousands have been deported summarily and a similarly high number left voluntarily because of hostility towards Muslims.[7] Muslims are routinely subjected to racial profiling which has become an acceptable norm in today’s America. As many as 30,000 Muslims have been waiting to become citizens for more than three years even though US law requires only a 120-day processing time.[8]

As a result of this Islamophobic public policy and public opinion, Muslim wages in America have gone down by 10% according to the University of Illinois and Columbia University.[9] Seventy-six percent of all young Arab-Americans surveyed in July 2007 by Zogby International say they have been personally discriminated against.[10]  Fifty percent of Arab-Americans surveyed in a Yale University study were found to have clinical symptoms of depression.[11]

It does not end there. Islamophobes like Daniel Pipes are openly arguing that not only were the detention camps for Japanese-Americans a good idea, but that America should think of instituting them for American Muslims.[12]  Islamophobes are not alone in talking this way. John Ashcroft, when he served as US Attorney General, spoke about the establishment of detention camps while talking to a group of Republicans.[13] A prestigious mainstream American think-tank is currently in the final stage of its recommendation that a preventive detention law be passed to deal with the detentions that would result in the wake of another terrorist attack. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already signed a contract with a subsidiary of Halliburton for $385 million to build emergency detention facilities. This suggests that nothing will stop the government from resorting to detention camps.[14] Sounds a bit remote? Remember that we have been down this road before.

Other than the historical context, there are two major components of this hate movement we call Islamophobia: public policy and opinion leaders. Public policy aimed at fighting terrorism at home has targeted Muslims to such an extent that it has turned into a fear industry. Entrapment and media-equipped raids, dogs sniffing for nuclear bombs in mosques, Muslim soldiers accused of treason, are just some of the manifestations of this policy. Although most of these cases fizzle out silently, the glaring media coverage has an impact on our neighbors’ minds and attitudes towards Islam and Muslims in this country.

These policies are based on the fallacy that American Muslims were somehow responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.[15] According to Michael E. Rolince, former FBI Special Agent in Charge of Counterterrorism, DC Field Office, the FBI conducted about 500,000 interviews of Muslims in America without finding a single lead which could have helped the agency prevent the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

The other source of Islamophobia is to be found among public opinion makers. They continue to make hateful statements about Islam and Muslims that would never be tolerated if directed against any other faith or ethnic group in America. The media, unfortunately, easily accepts, broadcasts and rarely challenges hate speech against Muslims whether it is a Congressman raising red flags of fear stating that “we have too many mosques in this country,”[16] or when Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, calls Islam a ”very wicked and evil” religion,[17] or when a five-term Congressman and a Republican presidential hopeful says that America should bomb the Muslim holy city of Mecca.[18] This last outrage has been promoted by some conservative talk show hosts for some time.

Conclusion:

This attitude towards the faith of 1.3 billion people is harmful for America and humanity.

The United States must take the necessary steps to recognize that Islamophobia is a post-9/11 expression of racism and xenophobia directed against Muslims. It must also acknowledge in public policy and through the mainstream media its existence and effects, following the lead of the United Kingdom and the United Nations. In 1996, the UK-based Runnymede Trust established the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia. In 2004, the United Nations convened the conference “Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding” in New York.[19]

These moves are the positive first steps necessary to confront and combat Islamophobia, the only acceptable racism left in our country.

© 2008 Abdul Malik Mujahid



[1] According to Jack Levin, a hate-speech expert at Northeastern University in Boston, as reported in the Christian Science Monitor, today’s anti-Muslim sentiment is similar to American attitudes toward Japanese-Americans during World War II.

[2]  Poll indicates negative views of Islam rising — chicagotribune.com Chicago Tribune. September 26, 2007. PEW Research The proportion who say that Islam has little or nothing in common with their own religion has increased substantially since 2005 (from 59% to 70%).

[3]  A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-08-09-muslim-american-cover_x.htm

[4]  The USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-08-09-muslim-american-cover_x.htm

[5]  Eric Lichtblau, “U.S. Report Faults the Roundup of Illegal Immigrants After 9/11,” New York Times, April 30, 2003.

[6] An interim regulation issued by the Attorney Genearal [67 FR 19508, 4-22-02] prohibited state and county jails from issuing statistics regarding detainees.  http://judiciary.house.gov/OversightTestimony.aspx?ID=428

[7]  13,434 were in the process of deportation as of Jun. 18, 2003 (Thomas Ginsberg, Targeted deportations rise, Philadelphia Enquirer, Jun. 18, 2003). Michael Powell, An Exodus Grows in Brooklyn: 9/11 Still Rippling Through Pakistani Neighborhood, Washington Post, May 29, 2003; Page A01

[8]Americans on Hold: Profiling, Citizenship, and the “War on Terror” Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, NYU School of Law: http://www.chrgj.org/docs/AOH/AmericansonHoldReport.pdf

[9] Journal of Human Resources Spring 2007 issue. For a press release by the Columbia University see http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ssw/news/aug06/kaushal911.html. The South Asian businesses in Chicago and also went down by 40 to 50 percent. http://www.chicagoreporter.com/2003/6-2003/registration/registrationprint.htm & Michael Powell, An Exodus Grows in Brooklyn: 9/11 Still Rippling Through Pakistani Neighborhood, Washington Post, May 29, 2003; Page A01

[10]  http://www.aaiusa.org/press-room/3141/aaizogby-poll-more-than-three-quarters-of-young-arab-americans-report-discrimination

[11]  http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-08-09-muslim-american-cover_x.htm

[12]  Daniel Pipes, Japanese Internment: Why It Was a Good Idea–And the Lessons It Offers Today. http://hnn.us/articles/9289.html

[13] Attorney General shared the possibility on internment camps in the event of another major terrorist attack with a delegation of Muslim Republicans in Michigan who shared the news with the author. Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission said that he “could foresee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for Arab Americans if Arab terrorists strike again in this country.” If there’s a future terrorist attack in America ‘’and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights.” (Rights panelist foresees internment push, The Miami Herald 7/20/02 http://www.prisonplanet.com/rights_panelist_forsees_internment_push.html). As early as September of 2002, attorney general discussed internment of even American citizens (General Ashcroft‘s Detention Camps, The Village Voice September 4 – 10, 2002 http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0236,hentoff,38006,6.html accessed 4/15/06).

[14] On January 24 2006 it was announced that a subsidiary of Halliburton KBR was awarded a $385 million contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build emergency detention centers in the U.S. These centers are to be used for “..an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of emergencies.” The contract and the wording caused many to speculate that “Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters,” says Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1971 released the Pentagon Papers. Ronald Takaki, professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley invoked the memories of http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=de9dd9fbbbbd59388d802c3f4e0e1288. The mainstream media merely covered the contract news without focusing on the potential usage of it. New York Times reporting ten days later on February 4th 2006 stated that the contract was awarded by the Army Corps of Engineers.

[15]  Ashcroft, John. “Prepared Remarks for the US Mayors Conference” 25 Oct 2001, accessed on 14 Apr 2007 http://www.usdoj.gov/archive/ag/speeches/2001/agcrisisremarks10_25.htm

[16]  “We have too many mosques in this country,” according to Rep. Peter King, the ranking Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, a prominent New York Republicans September 19, 2007 http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0907/Rep_King_There_are_too_many_mosques_in_this_country_.html

[17]  Franklin Graham in NBC Nightly News. Widely quoted although no direct reference is available to the author at this moment. http://www.trincoll.edu/depts/csrpl/RINVol6No2/Trouble%20with%20Missionaires.htm

[18]  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/06/1997179.htm

[19] http://www.un.org/Pubs/chronicle/2004/webArticles/112204_Conference.asp.

 

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