"Unprecedented surge" in anti-Arab, anti-Muslim incidents reported in U.S.

In the month since Hamas' attack on Israel sparked war in the Gaza Strip and worldwide protests, there has been an "unprecedented surge" in incidents of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias reported across the United States, according to a new report.

Data released Wednesday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which describes itself as the country's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, showed a tremendous upswing in complaints submitted between Oct. 7 — the day of the Hamas attack — and Nov. 4, exactly four weeks later. During that period of time, a total of 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias were submitted directly to CAIR, the organization said in a news release.

That number represents a 216% increase in such reports compared with the average number of monthly complaints the organization received last year. In 2022, CAIR received 406 requests for help and reports of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias, on average, each month. The organization said that complaints submitted to them since Oct. 7 have involved Americans of various ages and backgrounds, including public school students, college students, protesters, doctors and other workers. Some of the complaints have also involved bias targeting mosques in the U.S.

"Both Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism are out of control in ways we have not seen in almost ten years," Corey Saylor, the research and advocacy director at CAIR, said in a statement.

Buses headed back to Chicago after riders took calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war to Washington, D.C. / Credit: CBS 2
Buses headed back to Chicago after riders took calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war to Washington, D.C. / Credit: CBS 2

"The Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian rhetoric that have been used to both justify violence against Palestinians in Gaza and silence supporters of Palestinian human rights here in America has contributed to this unprecedented surge in bigotry," the statement continued, adding that "American Muslims are facing the largest wave of Islamophobic bias that we have documented since then-candidate Donald Trump's Muslim Ban announcement in December 2015."

The latest numbers from CAIR illustrate a drastic reversal from the dip in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment reported not long before the start of the most recent Israel-Hamas war. CAIR said earlier this year that it received a total of 5,156 complaints of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias nationwide throughout 2022. It was the first time the annual number of complaints had fallen from the previous year since the organization started to report bias incidents in the 1990s.

CAIR has also been tracking publicly reported incidents of bias directed toward Muslim or Palestinian communities, including at least one murder, two attempted murders and "numerous violent threats, the use of vehicles as weapons to target protesters, and incidents involving guns being discharged or brandished to threaten supporters of Palestinian human rights," the organization said in Wednesday's news release.

The release cited the killing of 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian-American and resident of Chicago who was stabbed to death on Oct. 15 by a landlord in an alleged hate crime. The boy's mother was also targeted in the stabbing and suffered injuries.

Saylor, echoing calls from protesters and advocacy groups across the country, urged President Biden to demand a cease-fire in Gaza and noted that "violence overseas is contributing to unrest here at home, and urgently requires his intervention."

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