Alwaght- Spreading Islamophobia across the United States has become a multimillion-dollar industry according to a report released this week.
According to a report by by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) and University of California Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, 74 groups contribute in some way to Islamophobia in the US. Of those groups. The report further notes that the primary purpose of 33 “is to promote prejudice against, or hatred of, Islam and Muslims”.
The core group, which includes the Abstraction Fund, Clarion Project, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Middle East Forum, American Freedom Law Center, Center for Security Policy, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Jihad Watch and Act! for America, had access to almost $206m of funding between 2008 and 2013, the report said.
The report, titled “Confronting Fear,” also presents a four-point strategy designed to achieve a shared American understanding of Islam in which being Muslim carries a positive connotation, and in which Islam has an equal place among the many faiths that together constitute America’s pluralistic society.
The report also documents the negative impact of Islamophobia in America, including:
• Anti-Islam bills became law in 10 states.
• At least two states, Florida and Tennessee, have passed laws revising the way they approve textbooks for classroom use as a direct result of anti-Islam campaigns.
• In 2015, there were 78 recorded incidents in which mosques were targeted. In both November and December of 2015, there were 17 mosque incidents reported during each of these months, numbers almost equivalent to an entire year’s worth of reports from the previous two years.
• Two recent phenomenon – “Muslim-free” businesses and armed anti-Islam demonstrations – raise deep concerns.
Finally, the report notes that progress has been observed in the reduced frequency and acceptability of anti-Islam law-enforcement trainings.
“The 2016 presidential election has mainstreamed Islamophobia and resulted in a number of un-constitutional proposals targeting Muslims,” said Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s Department to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia. “’Confronting Fear’ offers a plan for moving anti-Muslim bias back to the fringes of society where it belongs.”
“The work of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at UC Berkeley is enriched and inspired by the partnership and the hard work undertaken jointly with CAIR to produce another annual report that exposes the bigotry-producing industry in America while providing opportunities and strategies on how best to reclaim an open, democratic and religiously-inclusive society,” said Dr. Hatem Bazian, director of the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender at UC Berkeley.
Bazian added: “The hope is that this report and others like it will provide the needed grounding for communities across the country to use for effective engagement with policy makers, educators, civil society leaders, and media outlets. Education and applied research is the best avenue to uplift and bring about a social justice transformation in society and this report is a step in that direction.”
Corey Saylor, author of the report and director of Cair’s department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, said: “The hate that these groups are funding and inciting is having real consequences like attacks on mosques all over the country and new laws discriminating against Muslims in America.”
Saylor added that the Washington-based Center for Security Policy and Act! for America have the most impact, because they are trying to push their anti-Muslim rhetoric beyond their formerly fringe following.
Islamophobia is nothing new to America. It has been on a constant rise since the early 20th century, but the recent string of terror attacks linked to ISIS terrorist group in Paris, San Bernardino and Orlando has led to a wave of Islamophobic instances.
US Republican nominee Donald Trump’s rhetoric in his election campaign revolves around Islamophobia. It also shows how the Americans, who have long been known for their “melting pot”, are now turning into anti-Muslim day-in and day-out.
By Al Waght