Incidents of hate and discrimination against Muslims and Palestinians across the U.S. increased drastically as Israel’s genocidal assault of Gaza was ongoing in the last three months of 2023, the U.S.’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group has announced.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) released data on Monday showing that the organization received 3,578 complaints of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate between October and December of 2023. This is an increase of 178 percent over a similar period in the previous year, the organization reported.
The increase in hatred came after, earlier in 2023, CAIR reported that 2022 saw a drop in complaints of anti-Muslim hatred for the first time since the organization began tracking such incidents in 1995, with a total of 5,156 complaints nationwide in 2022.
The spike in complaints comes as Muslim and Palestinian communities in the U.S. have seen a new wave of hate and violence in recent months, with Israeli officials and U.S. Zionists stoking anti-Palestinian sentiment and spewing dehumanizing rhetoric about Palestinians as they are slaughtered en masse in Gaza.
“In the face of relentless hate and bogus smears, American Muslims, Arabs and a broad coalition of Jewish, Christian, African American, Asian Americans, and others continue calling for justice for Palestine,” said Corey Saylor, CAIR research and advocacy director, in a statement. “This coalition knows the way to stop the hate is to end the apartheid, occupation, and genocide occurring in Palestine.”
Among these incidents is the October killing of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy who lived in a neighborhood outside of Chicago with his mother. The family’s landlord, a white man named Joseph Czuba, had allegedly become obsessed with a bunk, Islamophobic conservative conspiracy theory about a “national day of jihad” that spread after Israel’s current Gaza assault began when he stabbed Al-Fayoume 26 times, killing him, and attacked his mother with a knife, sending her to the hospital.
Then, in November, Jason J. Eaton, a white man, allegedly shot and wounded three Palestinian American college students in Burlington, Vermont, paralyzing one of them by shooting him in the spine. The students were reportedly wearing keffiyehs, a traditional Arab scarf symbolic of Palestinian pride and resistance, when they were shot.
Discrimination in employment represented the highest proportion of complaints gathered by CAIR, representing roughly a fifth of incidents. The next two categories with the most incidents were hate crimes and education discrimination, both representing 13 percent of the incidents, the group found.
Previous research has found that hatred against Palestinians and Muslims is closely tied to political rhetoric around Israel’s settler-colonialism in Palestine, with U.S. foreign policy and widespread pro-Israel sentiment among politicians fueling Islamophobia and vice versa.
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