A prominent national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group today cited recent anti-Muslim incidents nationwide in calling on American leaders to address what it said is a “growing level of anti-Muslim prejudice and stereotyping” in American society.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said opinion leaders, policymakers and law enforcement authorities should speak out against the type of Islamophobic rhetoric on Internet hate sites and on talk radio programs that may lead to bias-motivated attacks.
In making its appeal to local and national leaders, CAIR cited recent incidents targeting American Muslim individuals and institutions, including a bias-motivated attack on a Muslim woman and child in Seattle by a self-proclaimed white supremacist, vandalism of mosques inFlorida and California, an anti-Islam sign outside a Florida church, racist fireworks sold inWisconsin, the beating of a Muslim student in New York, and the death of a California Muslim leader in a “suspicious” fire.
The Washington-based council also noted American Muslim concerns that government actions, such as sending agent provocateurs into mosques or targeting Muslims for deportation even after they are acquitted of criminal charges, can add to the growing level of anti-Muslim views by stereotyping Muslims as predisposed to terrorism.
CAIR called for swift government action to back up both President Obama’s recent challenge to those who promote “negative stereotypes” of Islam and the statement by U.S. Attorney GeneralEric Holder committing the Obama administration to protecting the civil rights of American Muslims. [In his recent speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, President Obama said: "I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."]
“It is important that our nation’s leaders speak out against the growing level of anti-Muslim prejudice and stereotyping in our society and support the American Muslim community when it is targeted by bigots,” said CAIR National Executive DirectorNihad Awad. “Education and mutual understanding are key to challenging those who would spread intolerance and hatred.”
He said CAIR recently launched a major initiative, called “Share the Quran,” to educate American leaders about Islam. In that initiative, American Muslims are being asked to sponsor distribution of free copies of the Quran, Islam’s revealed text, to 100,000 local, state and national leaders.
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties organization, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.