Hate Crimes Against Muslims Have Tripled Since Attacks In Paris, San Bernardino

KKK fliers were sent out to people in Alabama this month to stop "The Spread Of Islam."

KKK fliers were sent out to people in Alabama this month to stop “The Spread Of Islam.”

Americans may fear the threat of international terrorism, but Muslims in the U.S. are facing terror at home.

Hate crimes against Muslim Americans have tripled since the attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, and the terror attack in San Bernardino has exacerbated the problem, The New York Times report found.

Working with the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, the Times found that there are, on average, 12.6 suspected hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. per month, based on FBI data.

This month has been anything but average. Hate crimes against Muslims tripled since Nov. 13, with 38 attacks deemed anti-Islamic in nature. Eighteen of those attacks happened after the shooting in San Barnardino on Dec. 2 that left 14 people dead.

“We’re seeing so many of these things happening that it’s unbelievable,” said Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on Islamic-American Relations, said Friday. “It’s off the chart — and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it.”

CAIR also reported a sharp rise in vandalism and destruction at mosques this year, with 29 incidents occurring since Nov. 13. And if we expand those numbers to include general intimidation, bigotry and harassment, the picture is far more bleak. The Huffington Post’s Chris Mathias has tallied at least 73 Islamophobic acts in the U.S. since the Paris attacks.

Just this month, we’ve seen an Ohio 7th-grader threaten to shoot a Muslim boy whom he deemed a “towel head and terrorist,” Muslim women shot at in Florida, bricks and firebombs thrown into mosques across the country and Ku Klux Klan-run Quran burnings in Washington, D.C.

Most recently, 40-year-old Daniel Senteno allegedly followed a woman wearing a hijab into a car wash in Chino Hills, California, and pulled a knife on her. The victim said she was targeted because she is Muslim.

“I was born and raised in this country,” she told KTLA. “I’m several generations in. This is my country, my people, my town, my state.”

The New York Times reports that we haven’t yet reached the level of hate crimes in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when there were hundreds. But we’re getting there.

What is the Truth About American Muslims? Questions and Answers

flagEditor’s note: This publication, produced by the Interfaith Alliance and Religious Freedom Project of the First Amendment Center, provides answers to frequently asked questions about religious freedom and American Muslims.

From the beginning of our history, religious liberty has been at the heart of the American vision of democratic freedom. Within the civic framework provided by the U.S. Constitution, religion has long played an important role in American public life, without being enforced or controlled by government.

Today, however, as a growing number of religions call America home, new questions are being raised about the place of religion and specific religious groups in American life. For the health of the nation and the good of religion, those questions require answers.

During the past decade, acts of violence by extremists claiming to act in the name of Islam have raised fears and created confusion about Islam. In the United States, some individuals and groups have attempted to conflate all of Islam with extremist violence by disseminating misinformation and distortions about Islam and American Muslims. This has led to a rise in discrimination against American Muslims and those perceived to be Muslims, attacks on American Muslim institutions, and protests against the building of mosques in local communities.

By seeking to provide accurate information about religious freedom and American Muslims, this publication does not ignore or minimize the significant threat posed by extremists who promote and commit acts of violence in the name of Islam. We fully recognize the challenge to peace and justice posed by small factions within Islam who lift up extremist theology and pervert their faith to support their violence. All of the world’s major religions have faced similar challenges. But acts of violence by radical individuals and groups must not be used to condemn Islam itself – or to paint all Muslims with the brush of extremism.

Our purpose here is to inform Americans about the vast majority of their fellow citizens who are Muslim. In doing so, we seek to uphold our shared commitment to religious freedom and contribute to a climate of understanding and respect among Americans of all faiths and none.



The Law of Religious Freedom

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …
— Religion clauses of the First Amendmentto the U.S. Constitution

1. Are all religious individuals and groups protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? 

Yes. The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment guarantee religious liberty, or freedom of conscience, for all Americans — people of all faiths and none.

The Establishment Clause bars the government from advancing or inhibiting religion and ensures that government remains neutral.

The Free Exercise Clause and supporting laws, like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, protect the right of religious individuals and institutions to follow their conscience in matters of faith.

Under the Free Exercise Clause as currently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, government may not enact laws or regulations that target religious practice without demonstrating a compelling state interest and no less restrictive means of accomplishing that interest. When laws or policies apply to everyone and don’t target religious practices, but nonetheless burden those practices, the government is not required to justify such burdens with a compelling interest. The high court has also established that government may choose to afford religious liberty greater protection — an authority that is frequently exercised.

The twin constitutional guarantees of religious freedom for all citizens are good for religion and good for government.

The United States is today the most religiously diverse society in the world. The civic framework of religious freedom defined by the First Amendment enables people of all faiths and none to live together as equal citizens of one nation. Like other First Amendment freedoms, the rights to exercise one’s faith and to be free from governmental establishments of religion are fundamental rights that cannot be denied by majority vote or elections.

A majority may not impose its religious values on others, nor limit minority religious rights. The fact that a majority of Americans do not share the beliefs of a minority faith does not make those beliefs and practices any less protected. Unless all Americans are assured of religious freedom, the freedom of all Americans is in question.

2. What are the rights and civic responsibilities of religious citizens?

As a general rule, the government protects the rights of religious people and institutions to practice their faiths openly and freely without governmental interference unless the practice harms others or undermines other compelling societal interests. The government may not, however, compel adherence to, or participation in, the practices of any faith.

Good citizenship includes the civic duty to uphold religious freedom for all. Religious liberty rights are best guarded when each person and group takes responsibility to guard not only their own rights but the rights of others, including those with whom they deeply disagree. This respect for the rights of others is not indifference to theological or moral disagreement, but rather a civic virtue necessary to maintain peace in a religiously diverse society. All faiths are free to proclaim their vision of the truth, but they cannot look to government for help in doing so by either endorsing their religious truth or suppressing someone else’s.

All faiths are a religious minority somewhere in the United States: An attack on the religious freedom of one group today could easily become an attack on another group tomorrow.

3. What is the relationship of American law to religious laws?

Neither federal nor state governments may enforce or interpret religious law. This rule applies to courts, legislatures and administrative agencies — and it is a rule uniformly understood and respected. Courts may not, and do not, apply religious law in deciding contracts disputes, divorce or child custody cases or even in refereeing disputes over control of houses of worship. Even when deciding whether a particular governmental rule violates the free exercise of religion, courts refrain from deciding whether a party before them correctly understands his or her faith. They inquire only whether the claim is advanced sincerely.

4. Can American courts ever substitute religious law for civil law?

No. The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibit American courts or other government agencies from substituting religious law for civil law. This prohibition applies to all religions equally. For example, a court may not say that since the parties belong to a faith that prohibits divorce (or provides for different post–divorce property arrangements than civil law) that religious law will govern the divorce.

5. Can American courts enforce the decisions of religious tribunals?

Yes, as long as the parties voluntarily and knowingly submit the matter to the jurisdiction of a religious tribunal, the tribunal follows certain minimum procedural safeguards, and doing so will not conflict with important public policies (e.g., the policy against awarding custody to a parent guilty of child abuse). Such an agreement — in effect an agreement to arbitrate — cannot require a secular court to decide theological questions (i.e., an agreement cannot require reference to a tribunal appropriately applying Islamic, Jewish, canon law or other religious law because that would require the secular court to decide whether a religious tribunal properly applied religious law).

This is hardly novel law. For decades, American courts have confirmed many of the decisions religious and other nongovernmental tribunals (such as a Jewish Beit Din) make regarding the parties that willingly come before them, always subject to review for violations of important public policies.

Secular courts have, in effect, encouraged religious bodies to refer internal disputes about governance, hiring of clergy and disputes over theology to religious tribunals precisely because courts cannot interpret the religious rules which are frequently at the heart of such disputes.

Jewish and Christian as well as Muslim communities have long had such tribunals in the United States, and individuals and organizations have the freedom to choose to submit their disputes to these religious bodies for resolution. Government courts often, but not always, confirm decisions of these tribunals so long as they adequately respect constitutional boundaries and protect the rights of all parties.

Editor’s note: This publication, jointly produced by the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance Islamic Understanding, is republished here with permission.

American Muslims in the United States

6. When did Muslims come to America?

The history of American Muslims goes back more than 400 years. Although some evidence suggests that there were Muslims on Columbus’ ships, the first clearly documented arrival of Muslims in America occurred in the 17th century with the arrival of slaves from Africa. Scholars estimate that anywhere from a quarter to a third of the enslaved Africans brought to the United States were Muslims. Large numbers of Moriscos (former Muslims of Spain and Portugal) also came to the Spanish colonies, including many areas of what is today the United States. Although enslaved people were denied freedom of religion, many did practice their faith in secret and pass it on to their children. There are several autobiographies of Muslim slaves that survive from this period, including some by individuals who were involved in the Abolitionist movement and were Union soldiers during the Civil War.

The next significant wave of Muslim immigrants began in the mid-19th century. During the late 19th century until the 1920s, large numbers of Arabs, mostly from Lebanon and Greater Syria, arrived in the United States. Although the majority of these immigrants (almost 90%) were Arab Christians, there were sizable clusters of Muslims, most of whom settled in the Midwest. Mohammed Alexander Russell Webb, an early American convert to Islam, established a mosque and mission in New York City in 1893. The first mosque structure built in the United States for the purpose of serving a Muslim community was in Ross, North Dakota (1929) and the oldest surviving mosque is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1934).

African-Americans began to rediscover their African Islamic roots after the Great Migration of Blacks from the South to the Northern cities after World Wars I and II. The re-emergence of African-American Islam has been a consistent phenomenon during the twentieth century until the present. Today, African-American Muslims constitute roughly a third of the American Muslim population.

After passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, greater numbers of Muslims began migrating to America along with many other immigrants with diverse backgrounds. The change in immigration laws allowed highly-skilled professionals to enter the U.S. Many Muslims who came during this time period were from the Middle East and South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).

7. Who are American Muslims today?

America is home to one of the most diverse Muslim populations in the world, including people of almost every ethnicity, country and school of thought. Although they are widely viewed as recent immigrants, the demographics tell a different story. Approximately one third of the community is African-American, one third is of South Asian descent, one quarter is of Arab descent, and the rest are from all over the world, including a growing Latino Muslim population. While exact numbers are difficult to establish, there are between 3-6 million American Muslims. About one half of this population was born in the U.S., a percentage that continues to grow as immigration slows and younger individuals start having families.

Like others, most Muslims who choose to migrate to America arrive seeking economic opportunity and democratic freedom. The best studies available characterize American Muslims today as largely middle-class and an integral part of American society.1

American Muslims are present in all walks of life, as doctors and taxi drivers; lawyers and newspaper vendors; accountants, homemakers, academics, media personalities, athletes and entertainers.

Although American Muslims make up approximately one percent of the U.S. population, most Americans can name several famous American Muslims. Names like Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Mos Def, Fareed Zakaria, Shaquille O’Neal, Lupe Fiasco, Dr. Oz and Rima Fakih are part of our popular consciousness. Important business figures like Farooq Kathwari (CEO of Ethan Allen), Malik M. Hasan (a pioneer in the field of HMOs), and Safi Qureshey (a leader in PC component manufacturing) are all American Muslims.

Many American Muslims are also civically engaged, working with their neighbors to better their communities. Well-known American Muslim leaders include Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minn.), the first American Muslim to be elected to the U.S. Congress; Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.); Mohammed Hameeduddin (Mayor, Teaneck, N.J.); and Amer Ahmad (Comptroller, Chicago).

The nation has honored many American Muslims for their service and sacrifice, including, for example, Salman Hamdani, a first responder on 9/11, and Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart who died while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

8. What is the role of mosques in American Muslim life?

Mosques dot the American landscape and, for observant Muslims, are central to devotional life. A major study of American Muslims in 2008 found that involvement with the mosque and increased religiosity increases civic engagement and support for American democratic values. According to the study, “mosques help Muslims integrate into U.S. society, and in fact have a very productive role in bridging the differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in the United States. This is a finding in social science that is consistent with decades of research on other religious groups such as Jews, Protestants and Catholics where church attendance and religiosity has been proven to result in higher civic engagement and support for core values of the American political system. Likewise, mosques are institutions that should be encouraged to function as centers of social and political integration in America.”2

9. How do American Muslims participate in American public life?

American Muslims take part in all aspects of American civic life. They are members of the Boy and Girls Scouts, Elks Lodges, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and Veterans of Foreign Wars as well as members of school boards and volunteers in community centers.

American Muslims have created institutions of their own in the United States, just like other religious communities. There are many long-established groups, such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an umbrella organization of some 300 mosques and Islamic centers based in Indiana, and newer organizations like the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals.

Many Islamic centers and institutions create programs serving both American Muslim communities and the wider public.

The University Muslim Medical Association, for example, is a free health care clinic in Los Angeles founded in 1992 by American Muslim college students at UCLA and Charles Drew University to serve a diverse inner-city community. The Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) is a community-based non-profit formed in 1995 by American Muslim students, community residents and leaders to address inner city poverty and abandonment in the greater Chicago area. IMAN delivers a wide range of services, including a health clinic providing free health care and support services to the uninsured population on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

Many other American Muslim institutions are actively engaged in charitable giving, educational programs, interfaith outreach, health care, civic engagement, politics and the media. In short, American Muslims and the organizations they create are part of the fabric of American public life.

10. Is Islam a political movement?

No. Islam is a religious tradition, and adherents to Islam are called Muslim. Of course, American Muslims, like Americans from other religious groups, participate in American political life. American Muslim voting patterns generally mirror the broader American population. American Muslims are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, liberals and conservatives. There is no one political platform or agenda for those who practice the religion of Islam in the United States.

11. Have American Muslim leaders spoken out against extremist violence?

Yes. Many American Muslim leaders and organizations have repeatedly denounced extremist violence in the strongest possible terms.

Of the many statements and actions taken by American Muslims to condemn and counter terrorism, the fatwa (religious ruling) from the Fiqh Council of North America (an Islamic juristic body) captures the views of the vast majority of American Muslims:

“Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.”

The Fiqh Council of North America’s statement affirms the following Islamic principles:

”[1] All acts of terrorism, including those targeting the life and property of civilians, whether perpetrated by suicidal or any other form of attacks, are haram (forbidden) in Islam.

[2] It is haram (forbidden) for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or prohibited violence.

[3] It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to undertake full measures to protect the lives of all civilians, and ensure the security and well-being of fellow citizens.”

A comprehensive collection of condemnations of terrorism and extremism by American Muslims, including theological arguments, may be found on The American Muslim, a publication that has been providing information about the American Muslim community since 1998. www.theamericanmuslim.org

12. Are American Muslims concerned about extremist violence in the United States?

Yes. Most American Muslims, like most other Americans, are deeply concerned about the problem of extremist violence committed in the name of Islam. According to the most reliable data we have, the overwhelming majority of American Muslims is well integrated into American society and reports criminal activity. Over the past decade, 40% of domestic terrorism plots have been uncovered or deterred with assistance from American Muslims.3

13. Do American Muslim leaders support freedom of expression and religious liberty?

Yes. Many American Muslim leaders, educational institutions and advocacy groups have repeatedly spoken out for freedom of expression and are actively involved in promoting religious liberty for all people both in the United States and abroad.

A recent statement signed by some 200 American and Canadian Muslim leaders unconditionally condemned “any intimidation or threats of violence directed against any individual or group exercising the rights of freedom of religion and speech; even when that speech may be perceived as hurtful or reprehensible.”

The statement directly addresses recent controversies in the United States:

“We are concerned and saddened by the recent wave of vitriolic anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is being expressed across our nation. We are even more concerned and saddened by threats that have been made against individual writers, cartoonists, and others by a minority of Muslims. We see these as a greater offense against Islam than any cartoon, Qur’an burning, or other speech could ever be deemed.”4


1 The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has undertaken two major studies of American Muslims in 2007 and 2011. See the following for a summary of these studies: http://www.people-press.org/2011/08/30/muslim-americans-no-signs-of-growth-in-alienation-or-support-for-extremism/

2 The full study may be found at www.muslimamericansurvey.org

3 For a series of studies on extremist violence and the role of the American Muslim community in addressing the problem, see the publications of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (http://sanford.duke.edu/centers/tcths/). The Gallup study of American Muslims may be found at http://www.gallup.com/strategicconsulting/153611/REPORT-Muslim-Americans-Faith-Freedom-Future.aspx

4 The full text of “A Defense of Free Speech by Canadian and American Muslims” may be found at www.theamericanmuslim.org


Editor’s note: This publication, jointly produced by the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance Islamic Understanding, is republished here with permission.


Misunderstood Terms and Practices

14. What does “jihad” mean? Isn’t it a “holy war”?

“Jihad” literally means striving, or doing one’s utmost. Within Islam, there are two basic theological understandings of the word: The “Greater Jihad” is the struggle against the lower self – the struggle to purify one’s heart, do good, avoid evil and make oneself a better person. The “Lesser Jihad” is an outward struggle. Jihad constitutes a moral principle to struggle against any obstacle that stands in the way of the good. Bearing, delivering and raising a child, for example, is an example of outward jihad, because of the many obstacles that must be overcome to deliver and raise the child successfully. Jihad may also involve fighting against oppressors and aggressors who commit injustice. It is not “holy war” in the way a crusade would be considered a holy war, and while Islam allows and even encourages proselytizing, it forbids forced conversion. In Islamic tradition, the form of jihad that involves fighting requires specific ethical conditions under which it is permissible to fight, as well as clear rules of engagement such as the requirement to protect non-combatants. Scholars have compared Jihad that involves fighting to the Christian concept of “just war.”

The variety of interpretations of Lesser Jihad, or just war, over 1400 years in many settings is a complex discussion.

Much of the contemporary misuse of the term “jihad” may be dated to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, when stateless actors began to claim the right to declare jihad. In Islamic tradition, there is no theological or political basis for this claim. Radical and extremist groups appropriate and misuse the term “jihad” to give a religious veneer to their violent political movements and tactics.

15. Does the Qur’an require women to be covered?

The Qur’an requires men and women to dress modestly, but without specifying exactly what that means (24:30-31). Muslims therefore differ on what modesty requires, resulting in a variety of practices in different cultures and countries.

Historically, male dominance in Muslim societies has led to unequal application of modestly rules, with women in some cultures being made to cover much more of their bodies then men are required to do. At the same time, it must be said that many Muslim women in the United States and other countries freely choose to veil as an expression of their faith.

16. Are Muslim men allowed to marry four wives?

While the Qur’an sanctions marriage to up to four wives (Q.4:3), the wording of the verse is understood by some Muslim scholars to allow but at the same time discourage marrying more than one wife. Verse 4:3 says that a Muslim man may marry up to four wives if he can treat them equally. Since men cannot treat any two people equally, the practice which was historically acceptable during times of crisis, like war, is now even outlawed in some Muslim majority nations.

17. Does Islam sanction “honor killings”?

No. According to Islamic teachings, no Muslim may sanction or support murder; the Qur’an explicitly forbids such actions (16:59, 5:27-32). In fact, the Qur’an does not mention “honor killings,” and in Islamic teachings, there is no such thing as excusable murder. The term “honor killings” used in some cultures is an attempt to describe murder as something religiously acceptable. It is not religiously acceptable in Islam.

18. What is Taqiyya? Does Islam encourage American Muslims to deceive and lie?

Taqiyya is an Arabic word that means to hide your faith in times of persecution in order to protect your life and family. It does not allow one to deceive and lie. Muslims are allowed to practice Taqiyya when open declaration of their faith leads to death and torture.

A similar teaching can be found in Judaism: Maimonides, one of the great Jewish Torah scholars, taught that one is allowed to lie about one’s religion in order to save one’s life, and many Jews who were forcibly baptized in medieval Christian Europe engaged in the same kind of practice to protect their lives and remain committed to their faith. Given the very restricted contexts in which such behavior is allowed in both religions, it would be wrong to accuse Islam or Judaism of actively encouraging believers to deceive others.

Islam commands all Muslims to speak the truth and conduct themselves honestly in personal, political and professional relationships. In the Qur’an, God commands Muslims: “And do not mix the truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know [what it is] (2:42).”

Editor’s note: This publication, jointly produced by the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance Islamic Understanding, is republished here with permission.


19. What is Sharia?

Sharia stands for Islamic or sacred law. It is an Arabic word meaning “the way” or “the path to water.” For centuries, Muslim scholars have given a broad definition of Sharia reflecting the diversity of interpretations on how Muslims have attempted to best understand and practice their faith.

The general definition of Sharia as understood by most American Muslims is as follows:

Sharia represents how practicing Muslims can best lead their daily lives in accordance with God’s divine guidance. It may be generally defined as the Islamic law revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad. That divine law was then interpreted by Muslim scholars over the centuries. Among the primary aims of the Sharia are the achievement of justice, fairness and mercy.

The five major goals of the Sharia are the protection of sound religious practice, life, sanity, the family, and personal and communal wealth. The acknowledgement of sound local customs throughout the world is one of the five basic maxims of the Sharia according to all Islamic schools of law.

Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observance such as prayer and fasting. Just as many observant Jews follow Halakha, many observant Muslims follow some aspect of Sharia.

Currently, 35 countries incorporate Sharia into their civil, common or customary law. The diverse manner in which these countries apply Sharia to daily life highlights how Sharia is neither static nor rigid but instead a reflection on how different communities interpret it.5

20. What are the sources for Sharia?

Within Islam, there are four principle sources of Sharia, which are accepted by consensus. They are (1) the Qur’an, Islamic sacred scripture, which Muslims believe God revealed to humanity through the Prophet Muhammad, (2) the Sunna (or Prophetic model of behavior recorded in a literature called the Hadith), (3) the consensus of religious scholars, and (4) analogy. Many regional and local customs are also accepted as a source of the Sharia when they are consistent with the general good. Thus, the Sharia mandates that Muslims follow the good and generally wholesome customs of the lands in which they live.

The revealed and other sources of the Sharia require interpretation for the creation of substantive law. The process of legal interpretation is called “fiqh,” which means understanding. It requires trained scholars and is similar to the roles of religious scholars in working out the details of Rabbinical law in Judaism. Islam has a number of valid traditional schools of law, each of which constitutes a distinctive methodology in deriving the law from its sources and applying it to concrete situations. Each school offers a vast body of rulings and opinions. Islamic law is one of the richest sources of Islamic civilization through the ages and must be applied appropriately to new times and places.

21. Is Sharia open to interpretation?

Yes. Within Islam, certain interpretations and applications of Sharia have changed over time and continue to change today. There is no one interpretation called “Sharia.” A variety of Muslim communities exist around the world, and each understands Sharia in its own context. No single official document encapsulates Sharia.

Since interpretation is a human process, it has always been pluralistic, prone to error and dependent on human understanding, no matter the religion in question. Interpretation is also subject to conditions and times specific to a particular community of believers.Interpretations may vary significantly from country to country and community to community. This explains the great variety of ways Muslims have practiced their faith all over the world for the past 1400 years.

Any theological or moral system is vulnerable to misuse by extremists to promote violence. For that reason, it is important to be familiar with the history of a religious tradition and understand the widely-shared interpretation of its beliefs and practices.

22. Is Sharia compatible with American law and values?

Many aspects of Sharia or Islamic law are consistent with modern legal rules found in American law. For example, both legal systems allow rights to personal property, mutual consent to contracts, the presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings, and the right of women to initiate divorce proceedings.

If and when religious laws conflict with American law, the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment prohibit American government, including the courts, from substituting religious laws for civil law or following religious laws that violate civil law. This prohibition applies to all religions equally.

23. Do all Muslim countries adhering to Sharia engage in stoning and amputations as punishment for crimes?

No. These penalties are not allowed in 52 countries that make up the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, encompassing most countries with a Muslim-identified government. Indonesia, the most populous Muslim majority country, along with Egypt, Turkey, and Morocco all use Sharia as a primary source of law and none allow these punishments.

In countries where extreme interpretations of Sharia are applied, like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia and 12 states in northern Nigeria, stoning and amputations for adultery and theft are rarely used or enforced.

24. How do American Muslims follow Sharia?

Many American Muslims, like other religious communities who rely on scriptures and religious principles to guide their life, look upon Sharia as a personal system of morality and identity. The vast majority of American Muslims see no conflict between their religious obligations and values and the U.S. legal system.

American Muslims are part of one of the most diverse religious groups in the U.S. in terms of ethnicity, socio-economic status, education levels and political affiliation. For some, adherence to Sharia means keeping some or all of the religious observances, such as prayer, fasting or charitable giving. For others, Sharia also affects religious practices and rituals concerning personal matters, such as marriage, divorce, dress, inheritance, business transactions and property.6

25. Do American Muslims want to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia?

No. American Muslims overwhelmingly support the U.S. Constitution and do not seek to replace it with Sharia or Islamic law. The vast majority of American Muslims understand Sharia as a personal, religious obligation governing the practice of their faith, not as something American governments should enforce.

26. Is taking into account Muslim practices in U.S. courts an example of what some are calling “creeping Sharia” in the American legal system? How do you explain U.S. courts interpreting contracts based on Sharia law?

Sharia is not creeping into the U.S. court system. There are three types of cases that may require a court to even take notice of Sharia law:

• The first is a case in which a party alleges that some government practice interfered with the ability to practice his or her faith as required by Sharia law. Such a Free Exercise claim is identical to claims that government practice violates Jewish law, canon law or other religious laws. Courts decide only whether the claim is sincere and whether the government action violates the person’s rights.

• The second is an arbitration agreement providing for arbitration under Sharia law. These can be enforced by courts if voluntary and not in violation of public policy.

• The third, and least common case, is one in which a foreign country’s law governs a dispute (e.g., an accident that occurred abroad) and the country’s law includes Sharia law. In general, the same rules apply: American courts will not interpret religious law and will not apply foreign law in violation of basic public policies. The rules are no different for Islamic law than for canon law, Halakha (Jewish law) or other religious laws.

See also answers to questions 3-5.

27. How would state laws barring any consideration of Sharia or other religious laws in courts affect American Muslims and other religious groups?

More than two dozen state legislatures are currently considering or have enacted laws intended to bar state courts from considering foreign and/or religious laws. From statements by advocates of these laws, it would appear that the real target of such legislation is Sharia law, although most are now written to encompass religious law of other faiths, and “foreign” law.

Where enacted, these bills will infringe upon the long-settled and, for faiths other than Islam, non-controversial practices described above of allowing parties to voluntarily submit their disputes to religious tribunals.

Prohibiting courts from considering religious laws would hamstring all religious communities in a variety of ways. Many civil corporate documents, especially for churches, synagogues and other houses of worship, reference canon law, a book of order or discipline, church manual, or other source of law that explains the powers and limitations of administrators. How can a title company know, for example, if a religious leader signing a deed for a congregation has the authority to do so without looking at the rules and bylaws of the corporation (which for religious corporations will be religious rules or laws)? Many religious communities have alternative dispute resolution provisions in their governing documents, which have spared the courts much expense and time in civil litigation. Would these be unenforceable if courts cannot consider religious laws?

There simply is no evidence that Sharia (or other religious law) is being substituted for U.S. law in American courts. The First Amendment clearly bars government imposition of any religious law. At the same time, the First Amendment protects the right of religious groups to observe their laws in matters of faith.

Legislation barring any consideration of “foreign law” or “religious law” in the courts has the effect of potentially marginalizing and discriminating against all religious communities in America who have practiced their religious beliefs and customs peacefully for centuries thanks to the pluralistic and inclusive nature of the U.S. Constitution, which affords such freedoms and rights to all American citizens.


5 CQ Researcher Sharia Controversy by Sarah Glazer, available at www.cqpress.com

6 For a discussion of American Muslims and Sharia law, see: “Shari’a Law: Coming to a Courthouse Near You?: How Muslim Americans Understand and Use Shari’a in Marriage and Divorce” by Dr. Julie Macfarlane. See also, “Understanding Sharia in the American Context” by Asifa Quraishi and other publications from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (www.ispu.org). 

Editor’s note: This publication, jointly produced by the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance Islamic Understanding, is republished here with permission.


Throughout American history, people of many faiths have come to these shores seeking religious freedom. Despite periodic outbreaks of nativism, anti-Semitism, and other forms of religious intolerance, America has been home to history’s boldest and most successful experiment in religious liberty. Faith communities have thrived in this land without threatening the rights and freedoms of citizens of other religions or no religion.

More than 200 years after the ratification of the First Amendment, Americans still hold fast to the principles of religious freedom. Nearly 9 in 10 Americans agree that the United States was founded on the idea of religious freedom for everyone, including the smallest minorities or least popular communities.7

Today our commitment to religious freedom is tested once again as American Muslims and their institutions increasingly come under attack by those who raise unfounded fears and create confusion about Muslims – or, in some cases, use the violent extremism of a faction as an opportunity to demonize an entire faith.

We urge all Americans of goodwill to join us in combating ignorance and fear with knowledge and compassion. Religious freedom cannot be sustained by laws and courts alone – as important as they are. Full religious freedom depends on the courage and commitment of ordinary citizens to stand up for the rights of their fellow citizens.

In the words of the Williamsburg Charter (1988), all Americans should “affirm that a right for one is a right for another and a responsibility for all. A right for a Protestant is a right for an Orthodox is a right for a Catholic is a right for a Jew is a right for a Humanist is a right for a Mormon is a right for a Muslim is a right for a Buddhist – and for the followers of any other faith within the wide bounds of the republic.” The same guarantee prevails for people with no religion.8

We commit ourselves to speak, write and act according to this vision of mutual respect and religious liberty. We further commitment ourselves to disseminate this document widely in an effort to combat misunderstanding and false information about American Muslims. We urge our fellow citizens to do the same.


7 Public Religion Research Institute, Pluralism, Immigration, and Civic Integration Survey (August 2011).

8 The Williamsburg Charter is a reaffirmation of religious liberty signed by more than 100 American leaders and presented to the nation on June 25, 1988, the 200th anniversary of Virginia’s call for the Bill of Rights.

Editor’s note: This publication, jointly produced by the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance Islamic Understanding, is republished here with permission.

Resources for Learning More About American Muslims

The following organizations provide educational publications and presentations that may be used by faith communities, schools, colleges, community groups and others for deepening understanding among people of different faiths, upholding religious freedom, and promoting respect for the rights of others.

Unity Productions Foundation The mission of Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is to create peace through the media. A nonprofit organization founded in 1999, UPF produces documentary films for television broadcast, online viewing and theatrical release, and implements long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, especially between Muslims and other faiths. (www.upf.tv) UPF also sponsors “My Fellow American,” featuring stories of American Muslims and their contributions to American society. (www.myfellowamerican.us)

Institute for Social Policy and Understanding ISPU is an independent, nonpartisan think tank and research organization committed to conducting objective, empirical research and offering expert policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States. These issues include U.S. foreign policy, national security, the economy and public health. In addition, ISPU has assembled leading experts across multiple disciplines and built a solid reputation as a trusted source for information about American Muslims and Muslim communities around the world. (www.ispu.org)

Islamic Networks Group Islamic Networks Group (ING) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to counter prejudice and discrimination against American Muslims by teaching about their traditions and contributions in the context of America’s history and cultural diversity, while building relations between American Muslims and other groups. Founded in 1993, ING achieves its mission through education and community engagement. ING works through regional volunteers and affiliated organizations across the country to provide thousands of presentations, training seminars and workshops, and panel discussions annually in schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement agencies, corporations, healthcare facilities, and community organizations as part of cultural diversity curricula and programs. (www.ing.org)

The Islam Project The Islam Project is a multimedia effort aimed at schools, communities and individuals who want a clearer understanding of this religion: complex, diverse, historically and spiritually rich, and – for many – mysterious and even forbidding. While there is no shortage of classroom materials on Islam, surveys of teachers suggest that there are few resources that penetrate the monolithic concept of Islam to present the extraordinary diversity found in the world’s Muslim communities – diversity that is cultural, political, ideological and even religious. Equally important, there seem to be few resources designed to help teachers answer students’ questions, in the present political environment, about the nature of Islam and its role in the world in which they live. And finally, teachers need materials to increase student sensitivity to, and understanding of, Islam as it is woven through America’s rich multicultural fabric. The Islam Project is conceived in part in the belief that accurate information, representing a spectrum of perspectives, is the most effective antidote to fear and misunderstanding. (www.islamproject.org)

Editor’s note: This publication, jointly produced by the Religious Freedom Education Project of the First Amendment Center and the Interfaith Alliance Islamic Understanding, is republished here with permission.

AmeriKKKa: Threats, harassment, vandalism at mosques reach record high


Gunshots fired into a mosque in Connecticut. Armed men protesting the “Islamization of America” outside Islamic centers in Texas. Death threats called in to mosques in Florida, Maryland and Virginia.

Anecdotal evidence suggests 2015, a year bookended by murderous attacks carried out in the name of Islam, has been one of the most intensely anti-Muslim periods in American history. A new study shared with CNN puts statistical heft behind that suspicion.

Through December 8, American mosques and Islamic centers have been the victims of vandalism, harassment and anti-Muslim bigotry at least 63 times this year, the Council on American-Islamic Relations says in the study. That’s the highest number since the Muslim civil rights group began keeping track in 2009 and a threefold increase over last year.

The previous high was 53 incidents in 2010, during the controversy over the “ground zero mosque”near the site of the 9/11 attack in New York. But many of those incidents concerned bias at zoning hearings for new mosques. This year’s hostilities have a sharper edge.

This November alone saw 17 anti-Muslim incidents at mosques, with the vehemence rising after terrorists aligned with the Islamic State killed 130 people in Paris. Death threats and vandalism appear to be spiking again since December 3, when a Muslim couple killed 14 people and injured 21 more in San Bernardino, California.

(There was little increase in incidents after one of the first prominent terrorists attacks of the year, against the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7.)

CAIR provided the data after CNN asked about the recent rise in reported anti-Muslim hate crimes. Neither the FBI nor CAIR have yet tallied the total number for 2015. But the data on mosques provides an early statistical look at how bad this year has been for American Muslims.

Typically, hate crimes against people — including Muslims — are twice as high as crimes against property, such as mosques, according to the FBI’s annual reports, leading many observers to predict that 2015 will witness the most anti-Muslim incidents since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Hate incidents against American Muslims unabated; political rhetoric not helping

Corey Saylor, a CAIR spokesman, compiled the study based on media accounts and reports from the group’s regional chapters. He cautioned that the data is preliminary; the real number of incidents at mosques is likely higher. According to the Justice Department, hate crimes are often dramatically under-reported.

Still, CAIR’s study shows the depth of resentment against Muslims among some segments of the American population. The incidents occurred in nearly every region of the country, including the nation’s capital. (On Thursday, the Washington, D.C.-based CAIR itself was evacuated after it received hate mail containing a suspicious substance.)

“Daesh wants Americans to turn on each other, and with November seeing the highest number of mosque incidents since we started keeping data, it seems they are getting their wish,” said Saylor, using an alternative name for the Islamic State.

The incidents against mosques break down into four categories:

1. Damage, destruction or vandalism

2. Harassment, including the use of anti-Islamic slurs

3. Intimidation or threats

4. Clear bias during local zoning proceedings in which Muslims are seeking to build mosques

Since the Paris attacks, vandals have smashed mosque property and covered doorways with feces. Hackers replaced a Phoenix Islamic center’s homepage with a site that read “Vive le France.” A man in Falls Church, Virginia, left a fake explosive device at a mosque and battered its front gate.

The situation seems so dire that officials at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in northern Virginia said the security firm they hired to protect the mosque quit this week. “They said, ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen, we can’t protect you,'” said Imam Mohamed Magid, the mosque’s leader. ADAMS has been vandalized twice in past years, according to members, but not recently.

Magid’s comments on Monday came minutes after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, at a press conference at ADAMS, pleaded with Americans not to “throw a net of suspicion over Muslims.” Asked if Homeland Security will provide extra protection for mosques, a spokesman referred CNN to state and local law enforcement agencies.

U.S. Muslims tell their stories

Since the San Bernardino, California, massacre, anti-Muslim incidents have reached well beyond mosques.

In recent weeks, Muslims have reported being attacked in parks while praying, bullied at school and spat on while driving. On Tuesday, a Muslim congressman, Rep. André Carson, D-Indiana, said he has received a death threat, which he attributed in part to politicians “who are fanning the flames of bigotry.”

Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute of Social Policy and Understanding, said studies suggest that anti-Islamic sentiment seethes during presidential election years, when some politicians try to show their hawkish side by talking tough about Muslims.

During this election campaign, Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner, has proposed barring Muslim immigrants, surveillance of mosques and said he was open to the idea of creating a database of all Muslims living in the United States, ideas that struck some scholars as totalitarian and likely unconstitutional.

Opinion: Don’t collectively punish Muslims

According to CAIR, though, the anti-Islamic flames have been rising since August 2014, when ISIS released a video showing the beheading of two Americans. The horrific killings created an environment of “toxic hate,” the group said, in which some Americans lashed out against their Muslim neighbors.

Lori Peek, a sociologist at Colorado State University who has studied anti-Muslim backlash, says hate crimes are often more complex than they might seem. Some are carried out by drunk thrill-seekers with nothing better to do on a Saturday night. Others, which often occur after terrorist attacks, arise from a mistaken notion of “defending” the country from Muslim invaders.

In other words, one violent act, supposedly carried out in the name of Islam, is met by another violent act, supposedly carried out to combat Islam. Meanwhile, innocent American Muslims are caught in the middle. The effects of hate crimes can be long-lasting and psychologically devastating, according to studies, leading to depression, anxiety and other emotional trauma.

What would the U.S. with a ban on Muslims look like?

As with the rise of ISIS in the last 18 months, the news keeps getting worse for American Muslims, Peek said, with every new attack like a drop of water falling into an overflowing sink. “Muslim Americans are feeling that they will never be able to say that this is in the past, that we will be accepted again into the fabric of America.”

Still, some American Muslims say they’ll keep trying, even if they are targeted.

Hours after the Paris attacks, a gunman fired five shots into Baitul Aman, a mosque that sits on a quiet stretch of Main Street in Meriden, Connecticut. Thankfully, no one was at the mosque at the time, said Mahmood Qureshi, president of the Ahamadiyya Muslim Community of Connecticut. Worshipers found the bullet holes the next day.

Initially, the congregation was rattled, but they decided to open their doors again. They invited the local community to an open house at the mosque the very next day.

“The person who fired at our mosque didn’t know us,” Qureshi said. “We have to do a better job of reaching out to people. But we are resilient.”


Wounded Vet On Islamophobia: A Muslim Blew Me Up. A Muslim Also Saved My Life


“Blaming all Muslims for the actions of groups like [Daesh] and the Taliban, is like blaming all Christians for the actions of the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church.”


This soldier came back from combat not with hatred, but with perspective — and he’s got a message to share.

British veteran Chris Herbert recently penned a note on Facebook in response to people who assume he is anti-Muslim because he lost a leg while serving in Iraq, Metro reported. In the message, Herbert addresses that although while he was injured by a Muslim, he did not develop a hatred toward every member of the Islamic faith — and doesn’t believe anyone, in his position or otherwise, should.

“[I’m] getting frustrated by some people expecting racism from me, because I got blown up,” he wrote in the post. “Blaming all Muslims for the actions of groups like [Daesh] and the Taliban, is like blaming all Christians for the actions of the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church.”

Getting frustrated by some people expecting racism from me, because I got blown up. Here it is:Yes. A Muslim man blew...

Posted by Chris Herbert on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Herbert lost his right leg when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Basra, Iraq, according to a 2007 story from the Telegraph. Amid the recent tensions and public Islamophobic remarks following the Paris attacks and San Bernardino shooting, the veteran has experienced people around him expecting racism and resentment toward Muslims. Herbert, however, pointed out in his note that although he was injured by a Muslim in Iraq, Muslims were among the responders who saved his life:

“Yes. A Muslim man blew me up, and I lost my leg. A Muslim man also lost his arm that day wearing a British uniform. A Muslim medic was in the helicopter that took me from the field. A Muslim surgeon performed the surgery that saved my life. A Muslim nurse was part of the team that helped me when I returned to the U.K. … A Muslim doctor offered my Dad comfort and advice in a pub, when he didn’t know how to deal with my medicines and side effects.”

He then goes on to give further perspective, explaining that his disability has at times lead to hatred from other white people, including a white British man who spit on his girlfriend for dating a man without a leg. The letter illustrates the absurd assumptions that have been so publicly voiced about Muslims.

The veteran concludes the letter with force, writing, “Get a grip of your lives, hug your family and get back to work.”


WATCH AND SHARE: MOST POWERFUL VIDEO COMPARING Trump’s call to bar Muslims from America to Japanese internment, Nazi Germany…

Tom Brokaw blasts Donald Trump

This is one of the most powerful segments we've ever seen. Tom Brokaw compares Donald Trump's call to bar Muslims from America to Japanese internment, Nazi Germany, McCarthyism, and Jim Crow - and he didn't stop there. This amazing video is well worth taking a moment to watch, via NBC News

Posted by Media Matters for America on Tuesday, December 8, 2015

SOLDIER-RIPThis is one of the most powerful segments we’ve ever seen. Tom Brokaw compares Donald Trump’s call to bar Muslims from America to Japanese internment, Nazi Germany, McCarthyism, and Jim Crow – and he didn’t stop there. This amazing video is well worth taking a moment to watch, via NBC News

A Note on Trump: We Are No Longer Entertained


Earlier today, the candidate currently leading in the polls for the Republican presidential nomination called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” That was, of course, Donald Trump. As Jeffrey Goldberg just tweeted, “Donald Trump is now an actual threat to national security. He’s providing jihadists ammunition for their campaign to demonize the US.”

On the heels of Trump’s proposed change for America, we will be changing how we cover him at The Huffington Post. Back in July, we announced our decision to put our coverage of Trump’s presidential campaign in our Entertainment section instead of our Politics section. “Our reason is simple,” wrote Ryan Grim and Danny Shea. “Trump’s campaign is a sideshow.”

Since then Trump’s campaign has certainly lived up to that billing. But as today’s vicious pronouncement makes abundantly clear, it’s also morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics. So we will no longer be covering his campaign in Entertainment. But that’s not to say we’ll be treating it as if it were a normal campaign.

Our decision in July was made because we refused to go along with the idea, based simply on poll numbers, that Trump’s candidacy was actually a serious and good faith effort to present ideas on how best to govern the country. We continue to believe this to be true — and will continue to let it guide our coverage — but much has changed.

Yes, there was certainly no shortage of ugly comments from the beginning, as he kicked off his campaign with outrageous comments about Mexicans. But at first, this over-the-top xenophobia, though disgusting, played as the sour shtick of a washed-up insult comic. Now that Trump, aided by the media, has doubled down on the cruelty and know-nothingness that defined his campaign’s early days, the ‘can you believe he said that?’ novelty has curdled and congealed into something repellent and threatening — laying bare a disturbing aspect of American politics.

We believe that the way we cover the campaign should reflect this shift. And part of that involves never failing to remind our audience who Trump is and what his campaign really represents.

As Jay Rosen recently observed:

“To an extent unrealized before this year, the role of the press in presidential campaigns relied on shared assumptions within the political class and election industry about what the rules were and what the penalty would be for violating them … These assumptions were rarely tested because the risk seemed too high, and because risk-averse professionals — strategists, they’re called — were in charge of the campaigns.”

That is, most politicians knew not to say outlandish and offensive and dangerous things because they knew they’d be punished for it. As Rosen continues, “Those beliefs have now collapsed because Trump ‘tested’ and violated most of them — and he is still leading in the polls.”

But that doesn’t mean we in the media should in any way let Trump or those who would follow his footsteps off the hook. So as we cover his daily campaign, we’ll constantly remind the public of what he stands for, citing references and providing links.

For example:

1) His enthusiasm for creating a database of all Muslims in the United States.

2) His ongoing lies about Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11.

3) His status as birther-in-chief, cynically sowing doubt about President Obama’s legitimacy as the duly elected President of the United States.

4) His misogyny — here’s just one HuffPost piece on this, but there’s no shortage of these.

5) His xenophobia and scapegoating of immigrants, including his lies about Mexican immigrants and his ardent desire to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

6) His unmistakable passion for bullying. Again, there’s no shortage of examples, but you could start with his defense of supporters who roughed up a protester at one of his rallies or his ridiculing of a disabled New York Times reporter.

And we’re happy to see we’re not alone in our desire to present the unvarnished, un-euphemized Trump. Last week, The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank opened a column by writing, “Let’s not mince words: Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist.” And he went on to back that up, which isn’t hard and is the approach any reporter with an interest in telling the truth to his or her readers should adopt.

So if Trump’s words and actions are racist, we’ll call them racist. If they’re sexist, we’ll call them sexist. We won’t shrink from the truth or be distracted by the showmanship.

Of course, Trump isn’t the only candidate out there spouting extreme and irresponsible messages, but he’s in a unique position in the wall-to-wall coverage, from Meet the Press to SNL, that he elicits. By not calling out Trump’s campaign for what it is, many in the media, addicted to the ratings buzz he continues to deliver, have been legitimizing his ugly views.

As we’ve seen in the Republican race so far, Trump’s worst comments don’t occur in a vacuum — or land without repercussions. They affect the tenor of the conversation, frequently moving the line between what’s considered mainstream and what’s considered unabashedly extreme and unacceptable.

So we’ll not only be covering the ways Trump’s campaign is unique in recent American politics, but also the disastrous impact it continues to have on his fellow candidates — and the national conversation.


Muslim Sixth Grader Allegedly Attacked by Schoolmates Who Called her ISIS, Tore at Her Hijab



I am heartbroken and enraged…

A Muslim girl was attacked at her New York middle school by three schoolmates who referred to the girl as a terrorist organization and tried ripping off her religious garb, INSIDE EDITION has learned.

The sixth grade girl, whose identity IE is withholding, was playing during recess when three boys allegedly went after her on November 19 at P.S. 89 in the Bronx, a school source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told IE.

The boys, who are in the same grade as the girl, allegedly put her in a headlock and punched her as they tried to take off her hijab, the source said.

While beating up the girl, the boys also allegedly called her “ISIS,” the source said.

The incident occurred less than a week after 130 people were killed in Paris in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks, which were claimed by the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Officers responded to a 911 call about the attack at P.S. 89, which was reported as a bias incident in which three students attacked one other student, but a police report was never taken, a law enforcement source said.

The boys were expected to appear at a disciplinary hearing for their alleged actions shortly after the incident, but it was postponed in order to allow the boys’ families to hire legal representation, the school source said.

“Unfortunately young Muslims have been experiencing this for quite some time,” Corey Saylor, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told IE.

“Since August of last year… we’ve seen a cycle of Islamophobia that’s had a much more violent tinge to it than we’ve seen in many, many years,” said Saylor, who serves as CAIR’s director of the department to monitor and combat Islamophobia.

“I would’ve argued that it was calming down, until Paris followed by San Bernardino,” Saylor said.

The mass shooting that saw 14 people killed and 21 wounded when a husband and wife opened fire at a holiday party in San Bernardino on December 5 has left Muslim-American communitiesin fear of backlash.

Read: Donald Trump Sparks Outrage Calling for U.S. To Target Terrorists’ Families

“One of the girls told me, ‘I’m scared to wear my hijab anymore in public.’ That should not be the case. That should not be the case in the United States of America,” said one attendee of a prayer vigil at the largest mosque in San Bernardino held in response to the massacre.

“There is no burning bush solution… but for us, the problem that we’re trying to solve is that most Americans were introduced to Islam on 9/11 watching airplanes fly into buildings,” Saylor continued, noting that media coverage of Islam in recent years has been, arguably, overwhelmingly negative.

“If you’re subject to this steady diet of negative, and you’re getting it at home, we as a community have to figure out a way to overcome that,” he said. “I would argue that the school could make this is an opportunity for inclusiveness, making sure all the students are treated as Americans.”

The principal of P.S. 89, known as the Williamsbridge School, declined to comment on the incident.

“We are committed to promoting safe and supportive environments and a community of inclusion in all DOE schools,” a source at the Department of Education told IE.




This woman puts into perspective the last two mass shooting that took place in America. Watch the video and feel free to comment below.

Okay, I've just about had it in this video. This is for all the Muslims being unfairly targeted, for those who are targeting them and for every sane minded American who's fed up with witnessing it all. VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED!!! #WWJD #FoxNewsPropagandaIsDestryingAmerica #RightWingMediaIsCreatingMonsters #GodHelpUs #SorryInnocentMuslims

Posted by Chonleedonya Odum on Friday, December 4, 2015

Muslims in America Condemn Extremists and Fear Anew for Their Lives


Only hours after news broke that a suspect in a mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., had a Muslim name, the well-practiced organizations that represent American Muslims to the broader public kicked into action, as they routinely do after each terrorist attack attributed to Muslim extremists.

They issued news releases condemning the attacks as inhuman and un-Islamic, posted expressions of grief on Facebook and held news conferences in which Muslim leaders stood flanked by American flags alongside clergy of other faiths and law enforcement officials.

“Groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda,” Salam al-Marayati, president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said at a news conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, “are trying to divide our society and to terrorize us. Our message to them is we will not be terrorized and we will not be intimidated,” either by the terrorists or, he said, “by hatemongers who exploit the fear and hysteria that results from incidents like this.”

Dar al-Uloom al-Islamiyah, a mosque in San Bernardino where one suspect, Syed Rizwan Farook, sometimes worshiped. CreditMonica Almeida/The New York Times 

They say that they observed an escalation in hateful episodes this fall after anti-Muslim remarks by the Republican presidential candidates Donald J. Trump and Ben Carson. The threats, vandalism and violence grew more frequent and frightening after the attacks by Islamic State militants last month in Paris.

Now, with the F.B.I. saying that one of those responsible for the San Bernardino massacre had expressed Islamic State sympathies on Facebook, American Muslims are bracing for more hate directed their way. Overnight on Friday, vandals broke all the windows at the Islamic Center of Palm Beach in Florida, turned over furniture in the prayer room and left bloody stains throughout the facility. The F.B.I. is investigating death threats left by voice mail at a mosque in Manassas, Va.

The attacks have left American Muslims feeling defensive and vulnerable just as the San Bernardino attack is forcing them to come to grips with the prospect that the threat from terrorists within their midst is very, very real.

The attack in San Bernardino, which left 14 victims dead and 21 injured, was in many ways the nightmare scenario for Muslims trying to gain full acceptance in American society: Syed Rizwan Farook, the husband who committed mass homicide with his wife, was raised in the United States and was an American citizen. He had a college education, a stable job, a comfortable home and a baby, and displayed no outward signs of anger, mental illness or radicalization. He worshiped and was known at several local mosques.

At one of those mosques — Dar al-Uloom al-Islamiyah in San Bernardino, down a long road and surrounded by palm trees — Imam Mahmood Nadvi said he had never detected any warning signs in the few conversations he had had with Mr. Farook, an inspector for the county health department.

“Everyone had an image of him being a successful person,” Imam Nadvi said. “He had a degree. He had a good post.”

The imam called the shooting a shock and a mystery. Mr. Farook, he said, “does not even represent humanity.”

Mahoor Nadvi, a teacher and assistant imam, said the mosque had received threats.

“This all has to do with ignorance,” he said.

In a news conference Friday, lawyers for Mr. Farook’s family cautioned the public against jumping to conclusions about the attackers’ motivations. One lawyer, David Chesley, said the F.B.I.’s claim that Mr. Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on Facebook was “nebulous” evidence.

“Until there is absolute, clear evidence, every headline doesn’t have to say ‘Muslim massacre’ or ‘Muslim shooters,’ because it’s going to cause intolerance,” Mr. Chesley said.

However, Muslim Americans are now confronting the fact that to many Americans, Mr. Farook and other terrorists do represent Islam — especially since polls show that most Americans know no Muslims and little about Islam.

“My identity and everything that I am becomes erased every time one of these incidents occurs,” said Nabihah Maqbool, 27, a law student at the University of Chicago. “It all becomes collapsed into these senseless acts of violence being committed by people who are part of my group.”

Like many other Muslim American women, Ms. Maqbool said that she had considered taking off her hijab, or head scarf, out of fear of being victimized. She said that driving back to Chicago after celebrating Thanksgiving with her family, she had decided not to stop and pray on the grassy lawn outside an interstate rest stop, as she usually does.

“I just got so nervous that something could happen to me by any unhinged individual who saw me as someone who deserved violence,” Ms. Maqbool said.

The F.B.I. said it did not yet have data for hate crimes in 2015, and would not comment on whether there had recently been a rise in attacks on Muslims and their houses of worship. A chart provided by Stephen G. Fischer Jr., chief of multimedia productions for the F.B.I.’s criminal justice information service, showed that bias-related hate crimes against Muslims were at a peak in 2001, with 481 reported. In 2014, 154 such crimes were reported.

But in recent weeks, American Muslims have reported a spate of violence and intimidation against them: women wearing head scarves accosted; Muslim children bullied; bullets shot at a mosque in Meriden, Conn.; feces thrown at a mosque in Pflugerville, Tex.

Omair Siddiqi said he had been about to get into his car in the parking lot of a shopping mall in the Dallas suburbs last month when a man came up to him, flashed a gun and said, “If I wanted to, I could kill you right now.”

Mr. Siddiqi said he stayed quiet and the man walked away. Mr. Siddiqi called 911 and is now in the process of getting a concealed-handgun permit. “It’s very scary in times like this,” he said.

In a Dallas suburb, about a dozen protesters congregated outside the Islamic Center of Irving last month, some covering their faces with bandannas and carrying hunting rifles, tactical shotguns and AR-15s. The group that organized the protest posted on Facebook a list of the names and addresses of dozens of Muslims and what they called “Muslim sympathizers.”

Khalid Y. Hamideh, a spokesman for the Islamic Association of North Texas and a Dallas lawyer, called the mosque protest “un-American.”

“It would be unfathomable for that to occur outside a church or synagogue,” he said. “At the same time, we’re realists. We understand what’s going on around the country. We thank God for our friends in law enforcement and our interfaith partners.”

Fear Ignorance, Not Muslims

As the country continues a long and dangerous campaign to root out and prevent terrorist threats, it is concerned but not helpless. Federal investigators are starting a terrorism investigation in the California mass shooting, and more facts will emerge about the background of the killers and their links to the Islamic State.

Wherever the investigation leads, Americans must guard against overreaction, and subdue the panicked reflex of distrust and hatred toward the Americans among us who are Muslims. This has been a problem at least since 9/11 and will remain one as long as ignorance about Islam remains deep and widespread. Today the ignorance is being inflamed by know-nothings in the political sphere — by Republican presidential candidates calling for American Muslims to be registered and monitored, and for mosques to be spied on or shut down. Governors of more than two dozen states have declared their borders shut to Syrian refugees, in open defiance of common sense, the Constitution and human decency.

muslumsContrast these amateurs’ panic with the behavior of law-enforcement experts, like the counter-terrorism officials of the Los Angeles Police Department who met on Thursday with Muslim-American leaders to reassure them and the community at large that they are not alone and that they are facing this challenge together.

“Muslim communities are our strength — not our weakness,” Deputy Chief Michael Downing told The Times. “We can’t let this deteriorate our relationship or allow others to isolate or stigmatize the Muslim community.”

Chief Downing said law enforcement needs the trust and cooperation of the majority of Muslims in the mainstream, those who can raise the alarm about the radicalized few. But scapegoating and intimidation are already happening; he said a bullet-riddled Quran had been left at a mosque in Orange County, and violent threats were phoned in to the Islamic Center of Southern California. This kind of reaction to the carnage in San Bernardino, Calif., shows a free society damaging itself.

When Muslim-American leaders stood beside Farhan Khan, the brother-in-law of the shooter Syed Farook on Wednesday night, they spoke of standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the victims’ families as partners in this week’s suffering and grief.

“I cannot express how sad I am for what happened today,” Mr. Khan said, his eyes clouded by anguish and shock. “My condolences to the people who lost their life.”

Muslim-Americans, like other Americans, are horrified by the massacre and frightened at the prospect of terrorism striking here. They also carry a separate burden, having lived for years under the suspicion that ties them, broadly and unjustly, to criminal atrocities committed by killers linked to Islam. Many Muslim-Americans were doubtless concerned their own safety would be threatened by those driven by fear and hate. The mass shooting in San Bernardino may give rise to more fear, but murderous gun rampages, an everyday occurrence in the United States, have been set off by workplace resentments, anti-abortion and anti-government zealotry, paranoia, suicidal megalomania, various other forms of sociopathy, and by no evident reasons at all.

There is nothing wise — particularly from a law-enforcement and security perspective — about the urge to isolate and stigmatize Americans of any faith or heritage.