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Israel-Palestine war: Massive rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab incidents in US

There were 1,283 reports of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias since 7 October, a 216 percent increase from last year
Protesters gather at the Freedom Plaza during the National March on Washington for Palestine while calling for a ceasefire on 4 November 2023 in Washington DC (AFP)

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (Cair) received a total of 1,283 reports of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias since 7 October, a 216 percent increase over the past year.

In an average 29-day period in 2022, Cair received 406 complaints. The range of complainants was broad, encompassing diverse segments of Americans, such as students from public schools and universities, medical professionals, various employees, demonstrators and mosques.

"Both Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism are out of control in ways we have not seen in almost 10 years," Cair Research and Advocacy Director Corey Saylor said.

Between 7 October and 4 November, Cair's national office received 248 out of the 1,283 total appeals for assistance and reports of prejudice with the remaining instances handled by the organisation's regional branches.

The incidents come after 7 October when Hamas led an unprecedented attack on southern Israeli towns, after which 1,400 Israelis were killed.

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The Israeli military has responded with a punishing bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 10,800 people, mostly women and children.

"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," according to Saylor.

According to Cair, the most frequent type of case reported to the national headquarters involved First Amendment rights, which includes free speech and expression, accounting for 23 percent of cases.

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This was followed by workplace-related grievances, constituting 20 percent of reports, incidents classified as hate crimes at 15 percent, and issues pertaining to education and bullying, making up nine percent of the reports.

Cair says it has also been tracking publicly reported incidents of bias directed at Muslim or Palestinian communities.

These include at least one murder, two attempted murders, 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.

Just last month, a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was fatally stabbed 26 times and his mother seriously wounded in an attack officials say was linked to the ongoing Israel-Palestine war and because they're Muslim.

"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," Saylor said.

"Political leaders, corporations, media outlets, civic organisations and others all have a role to play in ending this surge in bigotry."

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