Harassment of Muslims Up in Arizona, 9 Other States, Report Says
By Kathleen Hunter, Staff Writer
Arizona tops a list of states which saw an upsurge of reported discrimination and violence against Muslims in 2003, according to a report released Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that aims to present an Islamic perspective on public policy issues.
Thirty-three incidents were reported in Arizona in 2003, up from just five in 2002. The second-largest percentage increase was in New York, where 191 incidents were reported last year as opposed to 48 the year before.
California experienced the largest raw increase 221 incidents in 2003, up from 66 in 2002.
According to the report, more than 80 percent of the incidents occurred in 12 states (California, 22 percent; New York, 19 percent; Virginia, 7 percent; Texas, 6 percent; Florida and Ohio, 5 percent each; Maryland and New Jersey, 4 percent each; Pennsylvania and Arizona, 3 percent each; and Illinois and Georgia, 2 percent each).
Reports of violence and discrimination against Muslims increased in 10 states in 2003, contributing to a nationwide increase of nearly 70 percent.
Nationwide, the number of reported incidents of violence and discrimination against Muslims jumped to 1,019 in 2003, up from 602 in 2002, and a three-fold increase since the year before the 2001 terrorist attacks. Last year marked the highest number of civil rights cases the council has ever recorded.
The report also found that allegations of mistreatment by local and federal law enforcement accounted for a third of all reports, the highest amount on record.
The report said five factors contributed to the sharp increase in reported incidents:
- a lingering atmosphere of fear since the Sept. 11 attacks.
- the war in Iraq and resulting pro-war rhetoric.
- an increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric the implementation of the USA PATRIOT ACT, a measure passed soon after the Sept. 11 attacks that is designed to enhance the government's ability to combat terrorism.
- increased reporting by community members.