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Report details discrimination faced by American Muslims

The report, titled ‘Resilience in the Face of Hate: Civil Rights Report 2021,’ found a 9% increase in complaints in 2020, even as hate crimes fell by 20%.

“In 2020, CAIR received a total of 6,144 complaints.” Graphic courtesy of CAIR

“In 2020, CAIR received a total of 6,144 complaints.” Graphic courtesy of CAIR

(RNS) — A new report from the Council on American-Islamic Relations notes a rise in complaints about bias directed at the nation’s Muslims, detailing incidents that the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy organization has addressed over the past year. 

The report, titled “Resilience in the Face of Hate: Civil Rights Report 2021,” found a 9% increase in complaints in 2020, even as hate crimes fell by 20%. The authors gave no reason for the increase in complaints but suggested that the decrease in hate crimes was due indirectly to COVID-19 lockdowns that kept people at home.

The report details 6,144 civil rights complaints that CAIR received, either at its national headquarters in Washington, D.C., or through its affiliates around the nation, in 2020. CAIR identified seven categories of complaint: Besides immigration and travel issues, the organization tracked law enforcement surveillance and overreach issues, prisoner rights issues, incidents involving educational facilities, outright discrimination, hate and bias incidents, and “other” incidents.

Of the more than 6,000 complaints, 2,069 incidents were classified as “other,” indicating the amorphous nature of anti-Muslim hate and discriminatory practices. Examples given in the report ranged from overt acts of bias, such as an Oklahoma business that put up a sign saying it would not serve Muslims, to more subtle incidents in which Muslims received unexpected delays or other disruptions in business or public service transactions.


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Some 1,814 complaints regarded immigration and travel-related issues; discrimination — more than half of which was reported as employment discrimination — accounted for 1,151. Those included incidents at some of the nation’s largest employers, such as Walmart and McDonald’s franchises.

Other incidents ranged from individuals being denied access to concealed weapons licenses to multiple examples of a denial of religious accommodation for Muslim inmates held in various county- and state-run correctional facilities.

Of the 114 incidents involving educational institutions, some 44% involved incidents of bullying of employees or students.


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“This important report clearly shows the need for continued vigilance in defense of civil rights for American Muslims and members of all other minority communities,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad in a statement released with the report. “It is vital that those challenging growing bigotry and hate receive the support they need to meet this critical challenge.”