CAIR-LA report finds record number of anti-Muslim hate since Oct. 7 attacks – Orange County Register

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On Oct. 8, 2023, Shoeb Mohammed was physically and verbally attacked in the hall of his Hollywood apartment building, wearing a hat with “nothing more than the word Palestine emblazoned upon my hat—a simple, unadorned statement of geographical identity devoid of any political provocation.”

Mohammed shared his story months later at a press conference on Tuesday, April 2, denouncing the rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes. The man who attacked him was armed, “dressed in Israeli military merch.”

“He launched into a tirade, assaulting me both physically and verbally with a fervor that belied a deep-seated hatred towards Muslims,” Mohammed said. “The irony is that he called me a ‘terrorist’ as he escalated to physical violence, brandished a gun, subjected me to the indignity of being spat upon, and threatened to shoot me dead.”

Mohammed shared his story at the Anaheim office of the Greater Los Angeles Area Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-LA. The nonprofit, the nation’s largest Islamic advocacy group, presented the results of its annual civil rights report entitled “Fatal: The Resurgence of Anti-Muslim Hate.”

The report documents the “worst wave of anti-Muslim bigotry” the organization has seen in its 30-year history, according to Amr Shabaik, CAIR-LA’s legal and policy director.

Shabaik and other CAIR-LA leaders say the sharp increase in Islamophobia follows the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. In response to the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas attack on Israel, and hostages being taken, Israeli forces have continued to bomb Gaza, a move many advocates — including CAIR — are calling a genocide of Palestinian people.

In contrast, reports of antisemitism have also escalated since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Anit-Muslim hate incidents made early headlines in Illinois when a Palestinian boy was killed by his landlord, weeks after the Hamas attack.

And on Tuesday, the World Central Kitchen‘s efforts to provide food to Palestinians in Gaza were halted after an Israel bombing killed seven food aids.

City leaders across Los Angeles and Orange counties have faced increased pressure to take an official stance and call for a ceasefire, including Santa Ana, Pasadena and El Monte.

Shabaik said that more incidents of anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate have been reported across the state.

“College students have been harassed, threatened, doxxed and intimidated for the advocacy for Palestinian human rights deliberations,” he said.

At Tuesday’s press conference, a University of California, Irvine student, who went by Ziena, claimed that students organizing events and actions in support of freeing Palestine have faced “increased aggression” on campus.

“With the mainstream media frenzied against Palestinian resistance existence, our university systems imposed their role as imperial, settler-colonial institutions upon us,” Ziena said. “They refused to acknowledge the atrocities committed by the Zionist entity in Gaza. They engaged in counterinsurgent efforts against student activists through police violence and academic suspension.”

CAIR saw 8,061 reports of anti-Muslim hate from across the country in 2023, a 56% increase from its last report in 2022.

Officials said the 2023 wave of incidents surpassed the period following the travel ban on Muslim countries implemented during the Trump administration in 2020 — s 32% increase over the previous year.

Reported anti-Muslim hate crimes saw a 419% increase, while employment discrimination saw a 130% increase and education complaints saw a 219% increase, according to Shabaik. Half of these reported hate crimes were in the two months immediately following the Oct. 7 attack.

“Anti-Muslim hate has been motivated and spurred on by the use of anti-Muslim rhetoric to justify violence against Palestinians in Gaza and the silencing of Palestinian voices here in America,” Shabaik said.

From Oct. 7, 2022, to the end of that year, the nonprofit reported one anti-Muslim hate incident. But in 2023, anti-Muslim hate saw a 6,700% increase — with 68 incidents reported specifically to CAIR-LA, according to Dina Chehata, CAIR’s civil rights managing attorney, on Tuesady.

Chehata said it’s very likely that these numbers are higher, as there are often incidents that don’t get reported.

“It’s especially concerning to me because we know that this number, as drastic as it is, likely doesn’t even capture the breadth of hate crimes and hate incidents the American Muslim community experiences.”

Chehata has spoken to people who have been terminated from their jobs for expressing pro-Palestinian views, to people of Palestinian descent who were punished for speaking up about what their people are experiencing, and to parents of K-12 students who have been bullied physically and verbally.

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of CAIR-LA, called these “atrocities” in “tandem with a well-orchestrated campaign of anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim rhetoric from Israeli officials.:

“This dehumanizing language has been parroted and reflected in statements and actions by U.S. politicians, including the Biden administration.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations issued recommendations for U.S. officials to address rising trends of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate — including calling for a permanent ceasefire, respecting free speech on Palestine in schools, offices and universities, and suspending the use of the FBI watch list. CAIR said the list has “unfairly targeted the Muslim community for surveillance,” subjecting them to “harassment, surveillance and intimidation” since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Shoeb Mohammed, who was personally attacked, urged people to avoid misinformation and be critical of anti-hate dialogue and policies.

“Throughout our country, violence against Muslims is trending, symptomatic of a society where divisive speech and misinformation breed tangible harm… Insha’Allah, we shall navigate to a future marked not by divisiveness and disdain, but by harmony and mutual understanding.”

CAIR-LA officials urge anyone to report incidents of anti-Muslim hate to ca.cair.com/losangeles, or call 714-776-1177.

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