Report Sheds Light on Anti-Muslim Bias


A recently released survey of anti-Muslim bias in the U.S. since 9-11 says that New York City has been among the hotbeds of prejudice in recent years.

Released by the Maryland-based group South Asian Americans Leading Together, the report examined almost 160 examples of bias, in forms ranging from heated political rhetoric, to surveillance of Muslim and South Asian communities and outright physical assaults on those same groups.

SAALT placed a special focus on New York City, where Associated Press reports, beginning in 2011, revealed the existence of the NYPD’s demographics unit, which mapped Muslim communities and placed them under wide ranging surveillance. The report also touches on bias against Middle Eastern communities broadly, as well as Arab, South Asian, Sikh, and Hindu communities.

The group’s executive director, Suman Raghunathan, said the timing of the report’s release, on the Monday before the anniversary of 9-11, was planned to coincide with what’s often an increase in divisive rhetoric.

“We wanted to take the opportunity this week, thirteen long years after a horrible tragedy, to highlight how people in our communities continue to be seen as suspect, un-American and unwelcome,” Raghunathan said.

Sikhs, who wear a dastar as an outward sign of their faith, are frequent targets of violence; some of the earliest attacks after 9-11 were directed against Sikhs, who follow a faith entirely distinct from Islam. As recently as August an attack in Queens left a Sikh man seriously injured, after a hit and run incident. The driver reportedly called the victim a “terrorist” before striking him with his car and dragging him more than 30 feet.

After a 2012 attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI, killed six worshippers, Raghunathan said there has been an increased awareness within the community about the risk of bias attacks. And for the first time, Sikh communities have been applying for an obscure federal grant program that provides security funding for nonprofits. At least two Newark-area Sikh organizations received grant funding through a subset of the Urban Areas Security Initiative this year.

The report also includes a long list of jaw-dropping quotes from politicians who should probably just stop talking already. Some of the highlights, like the assertion that “80 percent of Mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams” come from New York’s own Peter King, a congressman representing parts of Long Island. (King is pretty much a star in the making-bigoted-statements-arena, and also the not-caring-about-accuracy-when-maligning-a-whole-religion-arena. When the Washington Post asked him about his 80 percent figure, he said he had no idea if the number was correct, adding “I don’t think it matters that much,” presumably while rolling his eyes.)

The report is listed below, but here’s just one more gem from King, as reported by CNN:

Despite a person’s ethnic background or religious background, when a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it is pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, or whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate [with law enforcement ] anywhere near to the extent that it should.

SAALT Report Full Links