HomeCommunity IssuesCAIR: Reports of anti-Muslim hate reach 30 year high

CAIR: Reports of anti-Muslim hate reach 30 year high

By Julia Tong

On October 8th, Shoub Mohamed was attacked in his apartment building by a man dressed in Israeli attire. Mohamed says he was verbally and physically assaulted, called a terrorist, spat on, and even had a gun drawn on him by the instigator.

Mohammed is not alone. In the wake of Israel’s attacks on Gaza since October 7th, The Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR received the highest reports of hate incidents in its 30-year history.

“This hate crime, though deeply personal, is not an isolated operation,” Mohamed said. “Throughout our country, violence against Muslims is trending symptomatic of a society where divisive speech and misinformation breeds tangible harm.”

“Fatal: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate”

CAIR says 2023 marked a drastic increase in hate crimes against Muslims, primarily in response to Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

CAIR’s 2024 civil rights report, titled Fatal: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate, traces this spike. Per the report, CAIR received over 8,000 complaints in 2023 – the highest in the organization’s history. These statistics were higher than those during the Muslim ban, when anti-Muslim sentiment was already at an all-time high.

The report contained other statistics on the alarming rise of anti-Muslim hate in 2023. Overall, there was a 490% increase in reported hate crimes. This included a 130% increase in employment discrimination, and a 219% increase in education related discrimination. Much of this was driven by the genocide in Gaza; half of all incidents in 2023 occurred between October to December of that year.

Dina Chehata, the Civil Rights Managing Attorney at CAIR-LA, saw the impact of this spike in anti-Muslim hate firsthand at her local chapter. In 2022, CAIR-LA tracked only one hate crime between Oct. 7th and the end of the year. In 2023, however, the organization received reports of 68 hate incidents– a 6,700% increase.

Furthermore, she points out, these statistics likely understate the true extent of anti-Muslim hate crimes. Previous studies have shown that, though two-thirds of Muslim Americans experience hate incidents, only half of them ultimately report them. 

“We know that for every case that gets reported to our office, there are many others that don’t,” she said.

The key driver for these sharp incidents in hate crime is escalating violence in Palestine, says CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. On one hand, the dehumanization of Palestinians and Muslims in general, especially by US government officials, plays a major role in Islamophobia within the US. 

“In a way anti-Muslim hatred has been motivated and spurred by the use of anti-Muslim rhetoric to justify violence against Palestinians in Gaza, and the silencing of Palestinian voices here in America,” he says.

In addition, per CAIR’s report, others faced retaliation for those speaking up against Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Many, for instance, were doxed and hounded online for their advocacy. Others lost jobs for speaking out about, or protesting for, Palestine.

“Even those who are themselves Palestinian are being punished and terminated for speaking up for their people who are experiencing current genocide,” said Chehata.

University students, too, faced attempts to criminalize and repress their advocacy on their campus. One example is Ziena, a student at UC Irvine and member of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

When participating in national strikes and walkouts, students were harassed by professors and other community members. At one protest, student protesters were spat on by Zionists. Ziena says the university’s response was to punish student protesters by putting holds on their degrees for allegedly being disruptive.

Ziena. a student at UC Irvine, speaks about the harassment she faced for advocating for peace in Gaza.
A student at UC Irvine talks about the harassment she faced for appearing at a pro-Palestinian rally

In addition, Ziena alleges witnessing escalating police aggression at protests on campus. A student protest against a Regents meeting, for instance, was met with police with AK-47s, who verbally and physically harassed students. 

“[Schools] are threatened by students resisting Zionism on campus and they are threatened because they’re seeing how impactful it is,” Zeina says. 

“This is not only solely with UCI. This is something students are facing all different levels.”

“Our community remains resilient, hopeful, and politically engage”

The 2024 report also lays out CAIR’s five recommendations to reduce Islamophobia and hate incidents in the US.

First, CAIR says that the US must call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. Along those lines, they say that government officials, corporate leaders, and universities and schools must respect free speech about Palestine. Finally, the organization also called on Congress to enhance anti-doxing laws due to the disproportionate impact doxing has had on Muslim Americans and Palestinians who are vocal about Palestine. 

CAIR also called on state and local governments to continue accommodating Muslim practices. Finally, the organization also demanded that the Biden administration suspend the use and dissemination of the FBI terror watchlist, which was another focus of the 2024 Civil Rights report. CAIR’s analysis found 98.3% of names on the watchlist included identifiably Muslim names; those listed on it continue to be subject to surveillance, harassment, and discrimination. 

2023 marked historic increases in anti-Muslim hate across the country. But Ayloush remains confident that CAIR will continue to protect students, employees, and Muslims facing discrimination, as it has over its 30-year history.

Hussam Ayloush

“Despite these challenges, our community remains resilient, hopeful, and politically engaged, especially as it continues to challenge hate and advocate for an end to the genocide in Gaza and for a free Palestine,” he says.

Mohamed, too, remains optimistic that community-driven organizations like CAIR will continue to fight discrimination that he, and many other Muslim Americans, face.

“It is only through our collective action through organizations like CAIR that we can foster a community that is immune to the scores of persecutions and violence that so many of us are facing,” he said. 

“InshaAllah, we shall navigate to a future marked not by divisiveness and disdain, but by harmony and mutual understanding.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.


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