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Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Sends Hate Crimes Up, Group Says
Chicago Sun-Times
May 12, 2005

By Pete Yost


Council cites radio, Internet for increase in discrimination

WASHINGTON- Anti-Muslim Internet traffic and radio broadcasts are fueling an atmosphere of hate and contributing to increased discrimination, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Wednesday.

Hate crimes against Muslims rose 52 percent to 141 last year compared with 2003, and civil rights violations reported to the council jumped 49 percent to 1,522.

“Whenever there is a beheading or act of terrorism overseas that involves Muslims, we see a rise in reported incidents here,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the council.

The trend is toward “rising Islamophobic rhetoric in American society,” said Arsalan Iftikhar, th council’s legal director.

The organization has become so concerned about anti-Muslim talk that it has launched an awareness campaign so people can contact advertisers about their concerns and file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.

Some Muslim leaders were surprised by the council’s findings, contained in a report titled “Unequal Protection.”

“I thought we were through with the high point after 9/11,” said Yaser El-Menshawy, chairman of New Jersey’s council of mosques.

“My gut feeling is it may be a combination of the war in Iraq and mounting casualties, and that we’re getting better at collecting this kind of data.”

Most prevalent complaints

The report divided alleged abuse into 14 categories, from unreasonable arrest-the highest number of complaints with 385-to Internet discrimination, with four.

Among the most prevalent complaints: There were 225 alleging religious discrimination such as community opposition to the presence of a mosque; 196 asserting employment discrimination; and 190 reported instances of verbal harassment.

copyright © 2005, Chicago Sun-Times