A new report finds groups perpetuating prejudice against Muslims, some even having political ties, have increased revenue since 2008.
By Sheryl Estrada
“Confronting Fear,”a report released last week by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Center for Race and Gender at University of California, Berkeley, found 33 U.S.-based “inner core” Islamophobic groups had access to at least $205 million.
Inner-core groups, which have a primary purpose to promote prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, have seen an increase in total revenue from $42,692,945 in 2008 to $205,838,077 in 2013.
“The hate that these groups are funding and inciting is having real consequences like attacks on mosques all over the country and new laws discriminating against Muslims in America,”Corey Saylor, author of the report and director of CAIR’s department to monitor and combat Islamophobia, said in a statement.
He also saidpolitics has played in a role in perpetuating the prejudice, including the rhetoric of the current U.S. presidential race.
“The 2016 presidential election has mainstreamed Islamophobia and resulted in a number of un-constitutional proposals targeting Muslims,” he said.
Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, chair Trump’s national security advisory committee, and the first senator to endorse the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has been honored by inner-core groups.David Horowitz Freedom Center, one of the 33 groups,honored Sessions in 2014 with the “Daring the Odds” award for his efforts in preventing undocumented youth from receiving temporary status the U.S. In 2015, another inner-core group, The Center for Security Policy, awarded Sessions with its “Keeper of the Flame” award.
“The only path to long-term stability and resolution of this humanitarian crisis for the United States and our European allies is to work towards the safe return of migrants to their home countries, as Mr. Trump has noted,” Session said in an interview in March. “This strategy will also protect our own national security.”
In aDecember 7 statement, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S. “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, inner-core group Act! For America is the largest grassroots anti-Muslim organization in the country. A key component of its “The Thin Blue Line Project” is a “Radicalization Map Locator,” listing the addresses of every Muslim Student Association (MSA) in the country. In addition, it also lists many mosques and Islamic institutions as suspected national security concerns.
The report also names 41 “outer core” groups whose primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims, but whose work regularly demonstrates or supports Islamophobic themes.
Other key findings of the report:
Anti-Islam bills became law in 10 states.
– 81 total bills or amendments introduced were between 2013 and 2015.
– 80 of these bills or amendments were sponsored solely by Republicans.
– According to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, 16.5 percent of “Republican state legislators have sponsored or co-sponsored” an anti-Islam bill.
The report found some states passed anti-Islam laws without legislators having a clear understanding of the religion:
“In 2011, Alabama State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa, Pickens and Lamar Counties) could not define Sharia. At the time, legislative staff admitted the definition of the term in Allen’s bill was copied from Wikipedia. Nevertheless, Allen pursued his mission to ban Islamic religious principles’ perceived threat. In 2014, Allen’s SB4 was approved by voters as constitutional amendment 1.”
Both Florida and Tennessee have passed laws revising the way they approve textbooks for classroom use. The report found that in some cases, teachers who simply informed students of the principles of Islam’s central belief system were accused of attempting to indoctrinate students.
Violence Against Muslims
In 2015, there were 78-recorded incidents in which mosques were targeted. Research revealed incidents in 2015 have more than tripled compared to the past two years, in which there were 22 mosque incidents reported in 2013 and 20 incidents in 2014.
In May, The Bridge Initiative, a Georgetown University research project, released a special report,“When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 Presidential Elections,”which found Trump’s rhetoric has contributed to an increase in violence toward Muslims in the U.S.
The study examines two overlapping time periods: January 2015 through December 2015 and March 2015 through March 2016 (the 2016 presidential election season). It found approximately 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence: 12 murders; 34 physical assaults; 49 verbal assaults or threats against persons and institutions; 56 acts of vandalism.
“Confronting Fear”acknowledges that acts of violence committed in the name of Islam “have undoubtedly contributed to negative public perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the United States.”
However it states that Islam and Muslims “are more likely to be held collectively responsible for the actions of an aberrant few.”
A goal of the report is to promote societal rejection of Islamophobia, as attrition in the acceptability of this form of prejudice would bring about change. It notes that societal rejection of the hate group Ku Klux Klan and its message resulted in less public support, visibility and impact.
“Islamophobia and groups that promote bias will likely always exist,” Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, said in a statement. “But the current environment that grants anti-Islam prejudice social acceptability must change so that such bias is in the same social dustbin as white supremacism and anti-Semitism.”