“Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States”

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

The Center for Race & Gender at the University of California, Berkeley



This report is co-sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). The Center for Race and Gender is responsible for the special sections on Park 51 and the 2010 election. CAIR is responsible for all other material in the report. This report was finalized on Dec. 1, 2010. All information is accurate to the best of our knowledge through that date.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

The Center for Race and Gender (CRG) is an interdisciplinary research center at the University of California Berkeley that fosters explorations of race and gender, and their intersections. CRG cultivates critical and engaged research and exchange among faculty and students throughout the university, between the university and nearby communities of color, and among scholars in the Bay Area, in the US, and around the globe.

Executive Summary

American Muslim reflections on Islamophobia in the United States occur in full recognition that virtually every minority in our nation has faced and in most cases continues to face discrimination.

Islamophobia is close-minded prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims. An Islamophobe is an individual who holds a closed-minded view of Islam and promotes prejudice against or hatred of Muslims. It is not appropriate to label all, or even the majority of those, who question Islam and Muslims as Islamophobes.

Some individuals, institutions and groups deserve recognition for their outstanding contributions to pushing back against Islamophobic trends during the period covered by this report: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Loonwatch.com; Congressional Tri-Caucus; Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN); Jon Stewart, Aasif Mandvi and The Daily Show; Keith Olbermann and Countdown with Keith Olbermann; Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report; Media Matters for America; interfaith leaders; and Rachel Maddow and The Rachel Maddow Show.

Some individuals, institutions and groups were at the center of pushing Islamophobia in America during the period covered by this report: Pamela Geller and Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA); Robert Spencer and Jihad Watch; Brigitte Gabriel and Act! for America; Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy (CSP); Steven Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT); Newt Gingrich; the four members of Congress who called for an investigation of Muslim Capitol Hill interns; Osama bin Laden, Al-Qaeda and other violent extremists; and Daniel Pipes.

According to those interviewed for this report, on a scale from 1 (best situation for Muslims) to 10 (worst possible situation for Muslims) Islamophobia in America stands at a 6.4. Interviews were conducted in September and October of 2010.

America is not an Islamophobic nation, but it has Islamophobic elements:

  • The public’s favorable rating of Islam sank from 40 percent in November 2001 to 30 percent in August 2010 according to the Pew Research Center.
  • In late November 2010, the Public Research Institute found that 45 percent of Americans agree that Islam is at odds with American values.
  • A Time magazine poll released in August 2010 found, “Twenty-eight percent of voters do not believe Muslims should be eligible to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Nearly one-third of the country thinks adherents of Islam should be barred from running for President…” Interviewees for this report often cited their observation that there is a general societal acceptance of derogatory commentary about Islam.

CAIR’s vision regarding Islamophobia in America looks toward the time when being Muslim carries a positive connotation and Islam has an equal place among many faiths in America’s pluralistic society.

Among the indicators that this vision is a reality would be the following points:

  • Islam has a 75 percent or higher favorability rating among the general public.
  • A person’s Muslim faith is considered an asset in private employment and public service.
  • Politicians welcome and seek public support from Americans of the Islamic faith.
  • Association with anti-Muslim movements or rhetoric discredits those who put themselves for-ward seeking to earn the privilege of public service.

Recommendations to American Muslim Individuals

1. Be an example of the Islamic traditions of patience and reason

2. Be an open neighbor

3. Be active in community life

4. Be active in political life

5. Document and report acts of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination

6. Confront Islamophobia in the news and entertainment media

7. Write a letter to the editor

8. Address Islamophobia on the Internet

9. Confront Islamophobia from public figures

10. Support local, regional and national Muslim organizations

Recommendations to American Muslim Institutions

1. Provide positive alternatives to Islamophobic events

2. Invest in community development

3. Re-introduce Islam

4. Begin to host Muslim achievers banquets

5. Expose the Islamophobes

6. Promote volunteerism

7. Hold open houses

8. Sponsor a CAIR “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” workshop in your area

9. Empower your community through civic engagement

10. Continue and strengthen outreach to law enforcement

11. Ensure the safety and security of your institution

[Excerpts from “Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States.” January 2009-December 2010. Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Center for Race & Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. www.crg.berkeley.edu. 2011.]