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Advocacy group publishes mid-year report highlighting spike in anti-Muslim crimes and bias

By Alaa Elassar, CNN

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has released a mid-year report highlighting serious cases of anti-Muslim incidents that occurred in the United States during the first seven months of 2021.

CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, typically publishes an annual report tracking hate crimes and bias incidents. The organization decided to release a mid-year “snapshot report” because of a spike in May and June, Robert McCaw, CAIR’s government affairs director, told CNN.

The report, published Wednesday, highlights 38 of the hundreds of anti-Muslim bias incidents documented by the organization this year, CAIR said in a news release. The incidents include hate crimes, harassment, school bullying, discrimination and hate speech.

The report is based on incidents directly reported to CAIR’s national office and chapters across the United States, as well as the media.

“This report serves as a reminder of the severe nature of Islamophobia and what needs to be done to combat it in the United States and around the world,” Huzaifa Shahbaz, CAIR’s national research and advocacy coordinator, told CNN.

CAIR documented a spike in anti-Muslim incidents in May and June, including four at mosques in May alone. Those cases involved vandalism, harassment towards women who wear hijab or headscarf and an attempted stabbing, Shahbaz said.

The spike coincided with renewed violence in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians.

Between May 10 and 20, Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire killed at least 248 people in Gaza, including 66 children, according to the health ministry there. Twelve people in Israel, including two children, died as a result of Palestinian militant fire from Gaza, according to the Israel Defense Forces and Israel’s emergency service.

Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire that began on May 21, but it has been fraught with tension and violence.

Anti-Semitic incidents also increased across the United States during the same time, Jewish groups reported. CAIR has condemned those incidents.

Although the report primarily focused on the US, it also included a section highlighting incidents in Canada, where CAIR said there has been a notable increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Among them was the June 6 truck ramming attack that killed four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident “a terrorist attack.”

CAIR said it documented 11 “serious reports” of violent crimes directed at Muslims in Canada during the first seven months of the year, the majority of which took place after the ramming attack.

The report concluded with a series of recommendations “to reverse this disturbing trend” of increased anti-Muslim crimes and bias incidents. Among them is a call for President Joe Biden to condemn incidents when they occur, and aggressive federal prosecution when local law enforcement fails to act.

“It’s time for our elected officials to speak up and out against anti-Muslim bias in the US, as well as the global phenomenon of Islamophobia that threats Muslims not only in the US but around the world,” McCaw said.

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