June 25 2011
Incidents of Islamophobia increased significantly last year and the American perspective of Muslims worsened amid heavily publicized controversies like the Islamic center near Ground Zero and a pastor’s planned Quran-burning, according to the report “Same Hate, New Target” released Thursday, combining data collected by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and University of California, Berkeley’s Center on Race and Gender.
The Muslim community is trying to recover from falling favorability, down to 30 percent, according to the Pew Center, and CAIR charged American Muslims to become more active in their communities as a way to personally counter the negative stereotypes their neighbors may hold.
Reports of anti-Muslim rhetoric doubled between 2009 and 2010 and vandalisms tripled, including damage done to the Turkish Center Mosque in Houston, an Islamic center in San Antonio and a mosque playground in Arlington, the report found.
The report also applauded political leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and news satirists like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert for their commentary on Islamophobia, which the report defines as close-minded prejudice against Muslims. They criticized the Jihad Watch, Newt Gingrich and others for promoting Islamophobia.
“This groundbreaking report creates a benchmark for examining the troubling growth of anti-Muslim sentiment in our society and offers a who’s who of those promoting or challenging Islamophobia,” said Nihad Awad, the national executive director of CAIR. “As the recent GOP presidential debate demonstrated, Islamophobia is moving toward the mainstream and therefore must be challenged by all Americans who learned from those periods in our nation’s history when other minorities were similarly targeted.”
The report outlined how civic engagement, community outreach and charity work are all part of restoring the reputation of the Muslim community to CAIR’s goal of 75 percent favorability.
“I think we really need to serve the society,” said Awad during a discussion about the report. “We need to do service beyond our immediate circles, beyond the traditional religious functions. I think that is when the community will find itself at home and when other people will find the community worthy of respect.”
Read the full report “Same Hate. New Target” here: