Chicago Tribune: Muslim-American civil rights complaints up 40%

The number of civil rights complaints filed by Muslim-Americans increased by about 40 percent in Illinois last year, according to a report released today by a national Islamic civil liberties group.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations found that complaints about delays in citizenship applications and work discrimination increased by 25 percent nationwide in 2006. Illinois had 412 civil rights complaints — the second largest number of any state, the group said at a news conference in Chicago.

“I think most Muslim-Americans have themselves suffered from some sort of discrimination or know someone who has,” said Christina Abraham, the Chicago chapter’s civil rights coordinator.

The report, which is called “Presumption of Guilt,” says the experience of the American Muslim community is “the next chapter in the continuing civil rights history of America.”

The number of civil rights complaints by Muslim-Americans has steadily increased nationwide since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — to almost 2,500 incidents last year from about 350 reported incidents in 2000, according to the report.

Among the local complaints were reports of police brutality, women asked not to wear religious head scarves by employers and the use of racist epithets in the workplace, Abraham said. But most of the complaints had to do with citizenship delays because of background checks, she said.

There are more than 400,000 Muslims in the Chicago area, she said.

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