Source: A People Under Siege
by William Fisher
NEW YORK, Dec 19 (IPS) – Five years after the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, “Islamophobia” — intensified by the war in Iraq and government actions — has left millions of Muslims here and in other Western countries fearful of harassment, discrimination and questionable prosecutions, and confused about their place in society.
Recent polls indicate that almost half of U.S. citizens have a negative perception of Islam and that one in four of those surveyed have “extreme” anti-Muslim views. A survey by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) found that a quarter of people here consistently believe stereotypes such as: “Muslims value life less than other people” and “The Muslim religion teaches violence and hatred.”
In 2005, CAIR received 1,972 civil rights complaints, compared to 1,522 in 2004. This constitutes a 29.6 percent increase in the total number of complaints of anti-Muslim harassment, violence and discriminatory treatment from 2004. It is the highest number of Muslim civil rights complaints ever reported to CAIR.