His fears are justified. A report from the UC Berkeley Center for Race & Gender done in collaboration with The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was released last week. Entitled Confronting Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States, reports the increase in hate crimes against Muslims or people mistaken as Muslims.
Islamophobia has unfortunately moved from the fringes of American society to the mainstream. Contenders for the office of the presidency have suggested un-constitutional policies such as banning all Muslims from the United States or suggesting that a Muslims could not be president of the United States. Elected officials in 10 states have enacted legislation designed to vilify or otherwise target Islam. In at least two states, the way school text books are selected was changed because some activists wrongly believe that introductory religious courses that teach children Islam’s five pillars are “indoctrination” and “proselytization.”
Islamophobic groups have enjoyed access to at least $205 million to spread fear and hatred of Muslims, says the report. Inner-core groups, which have a primary purpose to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, have seen an increase in total revenue from $42,692,945 in 2008 to $205,838,077 in 2013.
“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,” Corey Saylor, author of the report and director of CAIR’s department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, said in a statement.
He also said politics has played in a role in perpetuating the prejudice, including the rhetoric of the current U.S. presidential race.
“The 2016 presidential election has mainstreamed Islamophobia and resulted in a number of un-constitutional proposals targeting Muslims,” he said.“’Confronting Fear’ offers a plan for moving anti-Muslim bias back to the fringes of society where it belongs.”
The study examines two overlapping time periods: January 2015 through December 2015 and March 2015 through March 2016 (the 2016 presidential election season). It found approximately 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence: 12 murders; 34 physical assaults; 49 verbal assaults or threats against persons and institutions; 56 acts of vandalism.
Confronting Fear acknowledges that acts of violence committed in the name of Islam “have undoubtedly contributed to negative public perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the United States.”
A goal of the report is to promote societal rejection of Islamophobia, as attrition in the acceptability of this form of prejudice would bring about change. It notes that societal rejection of the hate group Ku Klux Klan and its message resulted in less public support, visibility and impact.
“Islamophobia and groups that promote bias will likely always exist,” Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said in a statement. “But the current environment that grants anti-Islam prejudice social acceptability must change so that such bias is in the same social dustbin as white supremacism and anti-Semitism.”