Originally published on ILLUME in September 2013
In a recent report analyzing Islamophobia in America, the Council on American Islamic Relations said there has been a decline in Islamophobia in America since 2010, which is a “cause for optimism.”
The report, “Legislating Fear: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States,” released on Thursday examines the state of Islamophobia and its impact in the U.S. between 2011 and 2012. The report identifies influential organizations and individuals that have promoted anti-Islam prejudice in America calling out popular media networks and lawmakers.
Based on surveys of diverse expert interviews, CAIR rated the state of Islamophobia in America in 2012 a 5.9 on a scale of one to 10, “with one representing an America free of Islamophobia and 10 being the worst situation for Muslims.” This was an improvement from 2010 when CAIR rated the state at a 6.4.
According to the experts, the decline of Islamophobia in the U.S. was a result of the decline in the Tea Party after the 2012 elections as well as a decline in “homegrown violent extremism cases hitting the media” that as a result has decreased public anxiety of Islam and Muslims. Furthermore, between 2011 and 2012 Islamophobes were increasingly becoming recognized as a hate group.
The report identified 37 “inner core” groups and people comprising the “Islamophobia Network” whose “primary purpose is to promote prejudice against and hatred of Islam and Muslims and whose work regularly demonstrates Islamophobic themes.”
The inner core included Middle East Forum; David Horowitz Freedom Center, which funds projects such as Jihad Watch; Atlas Shrugs, a blog founded by Pamela Geller who was responsible for the anti-Islam ad campaigns on subways; The Clarion Fund, which distributed anti-Muslim propaganda film in battleground states to influence the 2008 presidential elections; and Dove World Outreach Center run by Pastor Terry Jones who organized the “International Burn a Koran Day 2010.”
CAIR obtained IRS Form 990s to discover the interconnected nature of major anti-Islam non-profit organizations that make up the American Islamophobia network and their reliance on each other and affluent individuals for funding. According to the report, the inner core of the network received $119 million in funding between 2008 and 2011.
The network also includes 32 members belonging to the “outer core,” whose “primary purpose does not appear to include promoting prejudice against or hatred of Islam and Muslims but whose work regularly demonstrates and supports Islamophobic themes.”
The outer core included Fox News, The Rush Limbaugh Show, and Washington Times, The Mark Levin Show, and National Review.
CAIR additionally provided a list of best inductees for the promotion of pluralism and worst inductees for spreading anti-Islam sentiment. Among the worst list inductees included Rep. Peter King, Herman Cain, Lowe’s, and Walid Shoebat and the Forum for Middle Eastern Understanding.
For best inductees, the list included New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Dick Durban, ICNA, Center for American Progress and Anderson Cooper.
Executive director of CAIR Nihad Awad remarks in the introduction of the report he hopes the report will encourage Americans to join the organization in pushing against anti-Muslim sentiment “so that the Islamophobia network can join other bias movements from America’s history on the list of those th