Studies Examine Demonization Of Islamic Faith In U.S.
By D.A. Barber.
Two recent studies examine the pervasiveness of Islamophobia springing from a movement whose goal is the demonization of the Islamic faith in the United States.
The first study by the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, surveyed Muslims in California, while the second study from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, looks specifically at the San Francisco Bay Area, a region that includes the six counties containing the cities of San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Berkeley – considered the heart of liberal America.
Despite the U.S. being the model of religious freedom and tolerance, the studies found a disturbing picture of Muslims experiencing “Double Discrimination,” that includes both race and religion, which involves discrimination at work or school, as well as repercussions when reporting to supervisors or law enforcement agencies. And this hate environment towards Muslims and followers of Islam has emerged again in the media.
On April 22, Pat Robertson compared the religion of Islam to Nazism on the 700 Club, arguing that the U.S. should treat Muslims as it treated Nazis during World War II. And in the June 19 edition of The Advance, a local Georgia newspaper, columnist Gerry Allen argued that Christianity and Islam have been locked in mortal conflict for thousands of years, but Muslims “have been mostly unsuccessful because they can’t build anything much more complicated than a donkey cart.”
While Muslim Americans come from some 80 different countries and represent a variety of socioeconomic classes and sects, the population has been grouped into a single suspect class – with the phenomenon of “otherizing” Muslims in the post- Sept. 11, 2001 America leading to Islamophobia. This hostility and bigotry towards Muslims and followers of Islam in general, has led to acts of intolerance, racial profiling, and viewing Muslims as a security threat on an institutional and societal level by perceiving their views as “intrinsically problematic, violent, or unethical.”
The Islamic Human Rights Commission’s 200-page report, “Once Upon a Hatred: Anti-Muslim Experiences in the USA,” examined “the present systemic nature and root of societal prejudice,” including the many forms in which Islamophobia currently manifests itself in America. The report reveals that 29.9 percent of all Muslim respondents in California experienced a hate-motivated physical attack, and 37.9 percent were “overlooked, ignored, or denied service in a public” place due to prejudice.
“The fact that this study took place in California – hailed as the most progressive U.S. state in terms of both law and social practice – bodes ill for the nation as a whole,” notes the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
The “Bay Area Muslim study: Establishing identity and community” report from the Institute for Social Policy, found 23 percent of the Bay Area’s Muslim population respondents reported being victims of a hate crime. “We estimate the Bay area Muslim population to be approximately 250,000. The community, therefore, constitutes 3.5 percent of the area’s total population and is one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country,” notes the report.
But getting the big picture is tough: Both studies found a of lack data about Muslim communities since, much like other marginalized communities, they fear talking to authorities. The Islamic Human Rights Commission report says this “failure and unreliability of statistics collecting” of “hate-crimes” by the FBI can be explained by the awareness that the FBI has proliferated informants and operations targeting Muslim communities throughout the country.
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