What would you do with $105,865,763? That’s how much money was poured into 26 Islamophobia Network groups between 2017-2019 to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories about Muslims and Islam. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is still an acceptable form of bigotry in America.
This report builds off our previous work and exposes the funding behind U.S. Islamophobia Network groups between 2017-2019 by charitable institutions and foundations. Over the past few years, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has produced multiple reports documenting and exposing the funding stream behind the Islamophobia Network and its activities. Hijacked by Hate, our most recent report found 1,096 organizations responsible for funding 39 groups in the Islamophobia Network between 2014 and 2016. Moreover, the report also revealed the total revenue capacity of the Islamophobia Network during this period to reach at least $1.5 billion.
The following report examines Islamophobia in 2019 and 2020. To assess the extent of Islamophobia, we look at five different aspects: funding of the Islamophobia Network, school bullying statistics from 2019 – 2020, anti-mosque incidents, the spread of Islamophobia on social media by institutional leaders, and Islamophobia within American politics.
Contrary to popular opinion, these Islamophobic groups are not in the margins. They are fed millions of dollars to spread misinformation about Muslims and Islam, support anti-Muslim policies like the Muslim Ban using legal tools, and Lobby Special Interest Hate Groups. The first section of the report details which foundations and charitable institutions have funneled money into Islamophobia Network groups between 2017-2019. In addition, we document which groups have received these funds and how that money impacts American-Muslims.
Immediately following the first section, we discuss how widespread school bullying is for Muslim students. We draw on CAIR’s school bullying reports from Texas, California, and Massachusetts to shed light on the lived experiences of Muslim students. Next, we detail anti-mosque incidents from 2019-2020. We place these incidents into the following categories; Damage, Destruction, Vandalism (DDV), Harassment, and Intimidation.
We then transition into a section titled Islamophobia and Social Media, identifying how institutional leaders have used social media to spread Islamophobia online. We define institutional leaders as individuals who hold a position of influence or power within our trusted institutions — for example, a school board member or a police chief.
Furthermore, we document how multiple individuals with a history of Islamophobia were either appointed or nominated to serve in the Trump administration. Lastly, we detail anti-Muslim activities in American politics between 2019-2020. We hope this report illustrates how mainstream Islamophobia is and how foundations normalize anti-Muslim animus by pouring millions into organizations that produce misinformation.
Note to Reader
Although this report focuses on Islamophobia in the five areas mentioned above, we acknowledge the increasing levels of hate crimes and anti-Muslim bias incidents targeting American-Muslims. Though we do not go in-depth into this in the report, a few figures are worth noting. In 2019, CAIR released a report documenting over 10,000 anti-Muslim bias incidents from 2014-2019. Moreover, in 2020, CAIR recorded over 6,000 complaints nationwide ranging from discrimination, immigration and travel, incarceree rights, hate and bias incidents, and school incidents. Of these complaints, 241 accounted for hate and bias incidents. Moreover, CAIR documented over 500 complaints of anti-Muslim bias incidents in the first half of 2021 and four anti-mosque incidents in May alone.
CAIR will continue to protect civil rights in and out of the courtroom to ensure that American-Muslims receive the dignity and respect they deserve.
Key Research Findings
- Among the top 50 largest charitable institutions and foundations we reviewed, 35 of them funneled a combined total of $105,865,763 into 26 Islamophobia Network groups.
- Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc., Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Schwab Charitable Fund, Marcus Foundation, the Adelson Family Foundation, and the Jewish Communal Fund were among the top six funders of the U.S. Islamophobia Network between 2017-2019 (from the 50 largest charitable institutions and foundations we reviewed).
- The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) received a combined total of over $60 million from the Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc between 2017-2019. The law firm has a history of supporting anti-Muslim policies like the Muslim Ban. In 2017 the ACLJ filed a supporting court brief in defense of the Muslim Ban.
- CAIR school bullying reports from select states demonstrate that students continue to face physical and verbal abuse for being Muslim and do not feel comfortable expressing their Muslim identity and engaging in classroom discussions about Muslims and Islam.
- CAIR identified many anti-mosque incidents between 2019-2020, including incidents of damage, destruction, and vandalism (DDV), intimidation, and harassment.
- Between 2019-2020, CAIR identified 40 instances where institutional leaders shared or posted anti-Muslim content online. We define institutional leaders as individuals who hold a position of influence of power within our trusted institutions – for example, a school board member or a police chief.
- Seven individuals with a history of Islamophobia were either appointed or nominated to serve in the Trump administration.
Section 1: The Islamophobia Industry. Tracking the Funding Between 2017-2019
This section examines the top 50 funders of anti-Muslim bigotry documented in CAIR’s previous report titled Hijacked by Hate (page 28). We were primarily concerned with the top 50 charitable institutions and foundations because they represented the largest sums of money ($100,000 – $32,400,000) donated to Islamophobia Network groups. Among the 50 foundations investigated, 35 poured money into Islamophobic groups. The remaining 15 did not contribute to Islamophobia Network groups or include their contributions in the 990 tax form. The top 50 foundations were organized into a single database.
The financial data was acquired by screening each charitable institution’s and foundation’s publicly available tax documents for 2017, 2018, and 2019. The 990 form is publicly available online approximately two years after filing. However, some tax forms filed for 2019 were not made public until later in the year. We obtained 990 forms from three primary sources; 1) Foundation Directory Online, 2) GuideStar, and 3) ProPublica. If a 990 form could not be identified on Foundation Directory Online for a particular year, we then moved to check GuideStar and so on. To ensure the accuracy of the compiled database, the grants were reviewed thrice by multiple researchers.
The graphs in this report were created using the computational software R. Most functions were performed in its base programming language with the exception of the graphic content, which was created in the tidyverse. Other libraries were used, such as cowplot, readxl, and viridis, to enhance the legibility of the plots.
To preserve the legibility of the graphs, we chose to omit Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc. from the grand total plot. Since this foundation’s scale superseded the rest of the donors, when plotted, it rendered the other bar graphs invisible. Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism Inc. is represented in a stand-alone graph to address this issue. This issue occurred again in the Top 10 organizations plot. Here, American Center for Law and Justice was omitted and printed in a separate graph.
The 990 forms for Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund (July 2016 – June 2017) had over 17,000 pages. Because this document was unsearchable and not alphabetized, we did not include it as part of our calculations for 2017.
A select few foundations whose tax documents began in July of 2016 and ended in June 2017 were included in our 2017 calculations because they accounted for January – June 2017. Those foundations include Combined Jewish of Greater Boston Inc, Jewish Communal Fund, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties, Schwab Charitable Fund, the Hellen Diller Family Foundation, the Jewish Community Foundation. We included orange asterisks next to the appropriate foundation (pages 15-16) to signify this note.
Some names for the foundations were abbreviated in the graphs to preserve legibility and spacing. Lastly, the code used to create these graphs was reviewed for its accuracy by faculty at the University of Pennsylvania.
Section 2: School Bullying
For this section, we obtained key data from CAIR’s school bullying reports from 2019 – 2020. We examined three reports from Texas, California, and Massachusetts to show just how pervasive Islamophobia was in the school system.
Section 3: Anti-mosque Incidents
To obtain data on anti-mosque incidents from 2019-2020, we did a media analysis of two years worth of CAIR’s press releases (2019 and 2020). CAIR’s communications team has a consistent track record of identifying anti-mosque and anti-Muslim bias incidents immediately after they happen. We investigated each press release month by month to see when anti-mosque incidents occurred. Each incident was placed into the following three categories:
- DDV: Incidents involving property damage, destruction, or vandalism.
- Harassment: Demonstrations or acts that involve Islamophobic slurs.
- Intimidation: Threats of violence or other acts not involving property damage that are apparently intended to cause fear in those targeted by the act.
Section 4&5: Islamophobia and Social Media & Islamophobia and Politics
Similarly to section three, we conducted a media analysis of two years worth of CAIR’s press releases (2019 and 2020) for sections four and five. Section four lists anti-Muslim comments made by institutional leaders on social media platforms. We investigated each press release month by month to see when these posts were discovered and what was posted online. To determine whether a post was anti-Muslim, we used the definition of Islamophobia detailed in the following section of this report.
Note: We define institutional leaders as individuals who hold a position of influence or power within our trusted institutions — for example, a school board member or a police chief.
Although there are many competing definitions of Islamophobia, this report defines Islamophobia as the following:
Islamophobia is a fear, hatred, or prejudice toward Islam and Muslims that results in a pattern of discrimination and oppression. Islamophobia creates a distorted understanding of Islam and Muslims by transforming the global and historical faith tradition of Islam, along with the rich history of cultural and ethnic diversity of its adherents, into a set of stereotyped characteristics most often reducible to themes of violence, civilizational subversion, and fundamental otherness. Islamophobia must also be understood as a system of both religious and racial animosity that is perpetuated by private citizens as well as cultural and political structures.
An organization or individual is considered a part of the Islamophobia Network if it does any of the following or if it funds, partners with, or presents individuals or groups that:
- Allege that Islam and Muslims are inherently or uniquely violent, misogynistic, inferior, intolerant, primitive, devious, or that Islam is the antithesis of civilization.
- Allege that Islam is an existential threat to the U.S. and/or the “West” and that Muslims, or their representative institutions, are part of a plot to overthrow the “West” or America.
- Support unequal treatment under the law for Islam or Muslims.
- Allege that violent groups which falsely and perversely claim a religious cover possess the correct understanding of Islam.
Section 1: The Islamophobia Industry. Tracking the Funding Between 2017-2019
What would you do with $105,865,763? That’s how much money was poured into the Islamophobia network between 2017-2019. The Islamophobia Network, also known as the Islamophobia Industry, is an interdependent network of politicians, think tanks, scholars, religious groups, and activists that distort Islam and Muslims for monetary and political gain. They share an ideology of extreme anti-Muslim hate and work with one another to negatively influence public opinion and government policy about Muslims and Islam.
Over the past several years, CAIR has produced reports to show how philanthropic institutions and foundations have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into the activities of the Islamophobia Network. These institutions include household names such as Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund and Schwab Charitable Fund. In 2019, CAIR researchers found 1,096 organizations responsible for funding 39 groups in the Islamophobia Network between 2014 and 2016. The report titled Hijacked by Hate also revealed the total revenue capacity of the Islamophobia Network during this period to reach an estimated $1.5 billion. These funds were funneled by foundations into anti-Muslim, media, and educational institutions. Foundations are broken into three categories:
While some funds and private family foundations are ideologically aligned with anti-Muslim hate groups, like the Adelson Family Foundation, it is important to recognize that donor-advised funds (DAF’s) are being exploited and abused by donors who seek to anonymize their contributions to anti-Muslim special interest groups and receive tax benefits. Although there has been an effort to raise awareness about this abuse, including the Hate is Not Charitable Campaign, some have argued that DAF’s have exacerbated the problem of hate funding and have done little to implement best vetting practices of their participating donors.
Others have also argued that although contributions to hate groups may be minuscule, it still contributes to a normalization of dangerous rhetoric and activity. Some have called for Donor Advised Funds to adopt hate group policies and for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to have better vetting processes before giving an organization a “501c3” status.
For this section, we examined the top 50 charitable institutions and foundations documented in Hijacked by Hate to see how much money was poured into the network between 2017-2019. We were particularly concerned with the top 50 charitable institutions and foundations because they represented the largest sums of money ranging from $100,000 – $999,999 and over $1,000,000. Among the 50 largest charitable institutions and foundations we reviewed, 35 of them funneled a combined total of $105,865,763 into 26 Islamophobia network groups. This section shows how much money was funneled into the Islamophobia Network from 2017 to 2019, which organizations provided funding to anti-Muslim groups, the top recipients of these grants, and its potential impact on American-Muslims. Lastly, we include graphs to illustrate the overall funding to Islamophobic groups between 2017-2019.
What is a Donor Advised Fund?
Impact of the Network
- Spreading false information about the Muslim communities in the United States and beyond through social media, the press, public hearings, and other avenues.
- Supporting policies that negatively impact Muslim communities in the United States and overseas, such as the Muslim Ban.
- Violent targeting of local Muslim communities (anti-Sharia demonstrations and anti-mosque attacks.)
- Special interest lobbying by leaders of anti-Muslim hate groups. Frank Gaffney, the founder of The Center for Security Policy, a designated anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was appointed to Ted Cruz’s National Security Coalition in 2016.
Funders of Anti-Muslim Bigotry
Note: For purposes of clarity, we included Christian Advocates Serving
Evangelism, Inc. in a separate graph due to its large funding amount.
Note: Appendix A provides an example of contributions listed on a 990
- Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc. funneled over $60 million into the American Center for Law and Justice between 2017-2019, a law firm with a history of supporting anti-Muslim policies like the Muslim Ban. In 2010, the ACLJ filed a lawsuit to prevent the construction of the Park51 Center, objecting to its two-block proximity to the site of the World Trade Center.
- The Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund poured close to $7 million into Islamophobia Network groups between 2017 and 2019. Between July 2017-June 2018, it gave the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) $1,200,370. The organization was founded by attorneys David Yerushalmi and Robert J. Muise in 2012. In August 2017, the AFLC filed an amicus curiae brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting President Trump’s Muslim Ban. According to a 2017 report released by the Haas Institute at UC Berkeley, Yerushalmi’s 2010 draft of “American Laws for American Courts (ALAC)” has served as the model for the enactment of 18 anti-Muslim laws in states in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016.
- The Adelson Family Foundation gave nearly $4 million to Islamophobia Network groups between 2017-2019. The foundation gave a combined $3 million to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) between 2017-2019. MEMRI has an established reputation for distributing highly selective, distorted, and inaccurate translations of Arabic and Persian media. Through these selections, the organization attempts to portray Muslims and Arabs as inherently irrational and violent. CNN’s Arabic department also found “massive problems” with MEMRI’s translation of the program.
- The Jewish Communal Fund funneled over $3 million into Islamophobia Network groups between 2017-2019. In July 2017-June 2018, they gave the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) $50,000. The organization has been characterized as an extremist anti-Muslim hate group, known for its demeaning print media advertising that has likened Muslims to savages. The president of the organization is Pamela Geller. The group protested the construction of Park51, stating that the project would “insult the victims of 9/11” and “establish a beachhead for political Islam and Islamic supremacism in New York.” In 2015, the organization held a “Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest” in Garland, Texas, attempting to counteract an anti-Islamophobia event hosted by CAIR at an earlier date.
- The Diana Davis Spencer Foundation poured more than $2 million to anti-Muslim groups between 2017-2019. It gave a combined total of $80,000 to the Gatestone Institute between 2017-2019. A report titled “Fear Inc” by the Center for American Progress found that the fund is one of the “top seven contributors to promoting Islamophobia in our country” and has put forth $2.8 million to “organizations that fan the flames of Islamophobia” since 2000. The Gatestone Institute employs false information regarding Muslim refugees in Europe to stoke fear and hatred of Muslims in the West, including the fabricated idea of “no-go zones.”
Top Ten Recipients of Grants
Note: For purposes of clarity, we included the ACLJ in a separate graph due to its large revenue amount.
- The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) received more than $4 million in grants between 2017 – 2019. CAMERA cites the work of notoriously Islamophobic individuals to discredit American-Muslims and Muslim organizations. In 2012, CAMERA published a report called The Islamic Society of North America: Active, Influential and Rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood. The report accuses multiple American-Muslim organizations and individuals to be front groups for terrorism.
- The Middle East Forum received close to $2 million between 2017 – 2019. The Middle East Forum (MEF) is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization founded by Daniel Pipes that uses its platform to portray Islam as an inherently violent ideology and “imperialist faith.” In a 2016 blog post criticizing President Obama’s visit to a mosque, Pipes wrote that it is reasonable for “non-Muslims [to] worry that a co-worker will behead them or attack them at a party, that they’ll be bombed attending a sporting event, or rammed into by planes when working at their offices.” In a 1990 article for the National Review, he referred to Muslims as “brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene.”
- The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) obtained close to $10 million in grants between 2017-2019. FDD is a neoconservative lobbying group that advances the Islamophobic “war on terror” narrative and associated policies and practices. In November 2007, FDD Senior Fellow Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the Bush administration, in trying to forge a two-state solution, was “hellbent on granting statehood to savages who worship ‘martyrdom.’
- Charitable institutions should implement clear anti-hate policies and procedures to ensure funds are not granted to hate groups.
- Interfaith communities and religious institutions should design and implement faith-based programs dedicated to marginalizing hate speech and anti-Muslim bigotry in local communities.
- Philanthropic institutions should familiarize staff and stakeholders with the major actors and influencers in the Islamophobia Network.
- Organizations should investigate their grantmaking procedures to learn if they are intentionally or unintentionally funneling money to Islamophobia network groups.
- Philanthropic and religious institutions should hold educational initiatives for staff and board members to understand the scope of anti-Muslim bigotry and what constitutes Islamophobia.
Section 2: Islamophobia and School Bullying
Bullying incidents against Muslim students continue to remain high. Every year around the anniversary of September 11, CAIR receives a spike in reporting from parents whose children have experienced bullying in and out of the classroom from either a peer, teacher, or administrator. CAIR chapters across the country have issued surveys to better understand the lived experiences of American-Muslim students. Below, you will find some of the key findings and lived experiences of American-Muslim students from these reports in 2019-2020. Moreover, you’ll learn about the appointment of anti-Muslim activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the Tennessee State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission.
Leader of Anti-Muslim Hate Group Appointed as the Tennessee State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commissioner:
In November 2020, Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton appointed anti-Muslim activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the Tennessee State Textbook and Instructional Materials Quality Commission.
Cardoza-Moore is the founder of Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), which the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as an anti-Muslim hate group. Cardoza-Moore led opposition to a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and opposed a mosque in New York City. On “The Daily Show,” she claimed that “30 percent” of Muslims “are terrorists” and that there are already “35 training camps in America.”
CAIR-Texas (Dallas Fort-Worth) Reporting
A survey conducted by the CAIR-DFW office covering the Greater Dallas Fort-Worth areas reached a total of 321 Muslim students between the ages of 11 and 18 who were enrolled in public and private schools statewide. Findings from the survey found that:
- 48% of respondents experienced some type of bullying including verbal
insults, physical abuse, and cyberbullying.
- 25% of respondents did not respond that they felt welcome and respected in school. Additionally, 41% of Muslim students did not respond that they feel comfortable engaging in class discussions about Islam and Muslims.
- 42% of the survey respondents reported that students from their school
make offensive statements and posts about Islam and Muslims online.
- 15% reported having their hijab tugged, pulled, or other forms of offensive touching. In addition to showing peer-to-peer bullying, the survey results show bullying and discrimination from teachers, administrators, and other officials at 18%.
- 23% reported being victims of cyberbullying.
CAIR-Massachusetts administered a survey to 190 students in grades 6-12 across the Commonwealth between 2019-2020. Findings from the survey found that:
- 61% report being made fun of, verbally insulted or abused for being Muslim.
- 40% have heard of someone who wears a hijab being physically harassed at their school.
- 17% report having their hijab tugged, pulled on, or other forms of offensive touching.
- 33% have altered their appearance, behavior, or names to hide the fact that they are Muslim.
- 43% have witnessed another student being bullied for being Muslim.
Muslim Students in Their Own Words
“They [teachers and administrators] know what’s going on but they try and cover it up. My freshman year I got bullied a lot and an administrator told my mom we should move to Cambridge.”
“I was in middle school, one guy tugged on my hijab and I was too scared to tell anyone.”
“Bullying is something that is taken lightly in our school. Though there might not be physical bullying, there is bullying in regard to comments and teasing from classmates. In my opinion I feel like bullying against Muslim students is not taken as serious as it should. I think that we should have lessons in class regarding Islamophobia.”
“Last year a teacher made fun of me for fasting, another teacher exclaimed that a brown student with a beard looked “like a terrorist.”
“I was in 10th grade when it happened, it was [the anniversary of] 9/11 … one of the students associated me with the attacks and kept on following me and calling me Osama’s daughter. I told my parents and the school and they took care of it, although no one has said that to me since I still get glares and snickers and snarky remarks.”
CAIR-California’s 2018-2019 survey was conducted by the four CAIR-CA offices covering the Greater Los Angeles, Sacramento Valley, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area regions. It surveyed approximately 1,500 Muslim students between the ages of 11 and 18 who were enrolled in public and private schools statewide. Findings from the survey found that:
- 30% of respondents reported not feeling welcomed and respected in school, compared to 31% in 2016.
- 28% of Muslim students reported not feeling comfortable letting others know that they are Muslim.
- 35% of the 2018 survey respondents reported that their peers make offensive statements and posts about Islam and Muslims online.
- In the 2018-2019 survey, 40% of respondents reported that students at school were bullied for being Muslim.
- CAIR-CA also considered gender-based differences in survey responses. More female students reported experiencing bullying, with 44% of female respondents reporting being bullied compared to 37% of male respondents.
Section 3: Anti-mosque Incidents from 2019-2020
From vandalism to harassment to intimidation, anti-mosque incidents continue to rise across the country despite increasing levels of security. 2015 accounted for the most ever cases in the Damage, Destruction, Vandalism and Intimidation categories and Intimidation category. New America, a think tank based in Washington DC, conducted a study of anti-Muslim hate, which found 763 separate incidents from 2012-2018. Of these incidents, over 170 accounted for hate incidents against mosques and Islamic centers. Using a media analysis approach, we provide a detailed breakdown of anti-mosque incidents from 2019-2020. Lastly, it’s important to note that many incidents go unreported due to fear of retaliation. Anti-mosque incidents are categorized into three categories; Damage, Destruction, Vandalism (DDV), Harassment, and Intimidation.
- DDV: Incidents involving property damage, destruction, or vandalism.
- Harassment: Demonstrations or acts that involve Islamophobic slurs.
- Intimidation: Threats of violence or other acts not involving property damage that are apparently intended to cause fear in those targeted by the act.
2020 Anti-mosque Incidents
Charleston, South Carolina, February 2020 – A College of Charleston student was arrested and charged for vandalizing the Islamic Center of Charleston. The words “Utterly Blessed” and an indistinguishable symbol were painted on the wall at the Islamic Center of Charleston.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 2020 – Masjid Al Nur and a Muslim-owned business in Minneapolis were vandalized with hate messages including “F**** Allah” outside their buildings.
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, April 2020 – Nicholas J. Proffitt set the Cape Girardeau Islamic Center on fire. Proffitt was charged with damaging religious property because of the property’s religious character, using fire to commit a federal felony, and damaging a building used in interstate commerce through the use of fire.
Indianapolis, Indiana, May 2020 – Bullets were shot into Masjid-E-Noor narrowly missing worshippers inside the mosque. A handful of worshippers were inside the mosque following a sunset prayer on Eid al-Fitr, a holy day celebrated by Muslims worldwide to mark the end of Ramadan.
Calcium, New York, June 2020 – There was a burglary at the Islamic Center of Northern New York where equipment was stolen and religious items.
Warren, Michigan, July 2020 – The Al Ihsaan Islamic Center was vandalized resulting in several broken windows and a hammer left at the scene. The executive director of CAIR-MI stated there has been opposition to the expansion of Islamic centers in Warren and other locations and says there have been threats against local mosques.
Riverside, California, January 2020 – A Riverside resident made threats and derogatory statements about Muslims at the Islamic Center of Riverside and assaulted a security guard. He was booked into Robert Presley Detention Center on suspicion of four misdemeanors: assault, violation of civil rights, vandalism in the court of violating civil rights, and trespassing.
Nashville, Tennessee, June 2020 – A sign at the Islamic Center of Nashville was vandalized. An unidentified man changed the lettering on a marquee from “Black Lives Matter” to “All Lives Matter.”
2019 Anti-mosque Incidents
Katy, Texas, January 2019 – Shots were fired into the Muslim American Society-Katy Center mosque. Bullet holes were found in the windshield of a contractor’s truck parked at the mosque and in one of the mosque’s front walls.
New Haven, Connecticut, May 2019 – A New Haven mosque was intentionally set on fire as determined by the New Haven Fire Department.
Grand Junction, Colorado, September 2019 – A man vandalized the sign of Two Rivers Mosque with “nondescript designs” and destroyed the flower bed around it.
No data found.
Baltimore, Maryland, March 2019 – The Maryum Islamic Center in Howard County received an online threat that read “You know the only thing you don’t want us to do is really show up right. And here’s what I say I got your address now mother*s maybe you’ll be next.” The phrase “maybe you’ll be next” was taken as a possible reference to the mosque massacres in New Zealand.
Phoenix, Arizona, March 2019 – Noel Thomas Becht, 40, was taken into custody and booked into Maricopa County Jail on charges of threatening and intimidating the United Islamic Center of Arizona. Becht made a sawing motion against his throat while speaking to a leader of the United Islamic Center of Arizona. “The vice imam said, ‘What does that mean? Why are you doing that?’ [Becht] said that ‘you will know later.’”
Miami Gardens, Florida, May 2019 – A man used social media posts that threatened to “kill Muslims one by one” at the Islamic Center of Greater Miami-Masjid Gardens. One posting read “(Expletive) the Muslim who stole my phone. (Masjid 183) I’m going to have your hand, with no trial, no due process. #TRYME.”
Petersburg, Virginia, May 2019 – A Dinwiddie, VA woman was charged for making a bomb threat to the Muslim Center in Petersburg.
Los Angeles, California, July 2019 – A suspicious package was found near the Islamic Center of Northridge, Granada Hills Masjid. The bomb squad responded and discovered a pressure cooker in a paper bag. The bomb squad detonated the package. The pressure cooker was determined to have been empty.
A couple of hours before the package was discovered, the mosque had reported a YouTube personality, known as “Furry Potato,” who was harassing worshippers.
The man posted two videos – more than two hours in length – outside the mosque, filming worshippers coming in and outside of the mosque.
Breakdown of Anti-mosque Incidents 2019-2020
Grand Total: 16 anti-mosque incidents
Section 4: Islamophobia and Social Media
Islamophobia has not only plagued our societies but our social media platforms as well. Studies show that following the 2016 election, Muslims experience Islamophobia “more frequently online than face to face.” Muslim Advocates, an advocacy and civil rights group, even sued Facebook executives for failing to remove anti-Muslim hate speech. Facebook’s own civil rights audit found that the website “created an atmosphere where Muslims feel under siege.” Israeli lobby groups have also used Facebook ads to target Congresswoman Ilhan Omar by associating her Muslim identity with terrorism. In this section, we expose how institutional leaders use social media platforms to spread antiMuslim animus.
We define institutional leaders as individuals who hold a position of influence or power within our trusted institutions. For example, a school board member or a police chief.
Below, you’ll find a list of anti-Muslim posts CAIR identified between 2019-2020 by leaders of civic institutions. Although some anti-Muslim content was produced on social media before 2019, they weren’t discovered until 2019 and 2020.
Anti-Muslim Comments Discovered in 2020
Kokomo, Indiana, January 2020 – Common Council member Gregery Jones resigned from his position after racist social media posts were discovered on his Facebook page. The posts called Muslims “goat humpers.”
Muscatine, Iowa, April 2020 – Muscatine County Jail Administrator Dean Naylor characterized Muslims as “the beast” in an 11,500-word treatise entitled “End Times – We Are Here!!” He writes in part “The people following the Muslim faith are nothing more than pawns to the devil … Allah is Satan, no doubt. Christians need to wake up and understand this. The Muslim world is bowing five times a day to the devil and they don’t know it … Islam has 2 billion followers, they hate Jews and Christians (and) they can have a 200-million-man army … Our fellow servants will turn on us and rat us out to the Satanically led Muslims who will be hunting us.”
Jersey City, New Jersey, May 2020 – Jersey City Republicans tweeted against newly-appointed Jersey City Councilman Yousef Saleh, claiming Saleh is hiding “his plans to implement #ShariaLaw into #NewJersey. . .#islamicterrorisom.” Another tweet stated in part, “unelected #muslim vows to implement ShariaLaw in #newjersey by taking oath on the Koran.”
California’s 10th District, California, May 2020 – Ted Howze, a Republican challenging Democratic Rep. Josh Harder in a battleground district in California in 2020 deleted social media posts and retweets that described Islam as “a death cult” and prophet Muhammad as a “rapist” and a “pedophile.”
New York City, New York, June 2020 – In a Facebook post, Rockaway Community Board 14 member Eddy Pastore suggested that the candidate for Democratic District Leader Tory Schnupp has alternative motives due to her Middle East origins and family relations. He wrote “she is a Muslim and her husband was born in Lebanon and grew up in Kuwait. Her whole family born in the Middle East. I don’t think it was fate that they found one another in America. I’m not so fast to stand behind people who probably have alternative reasons. As far as being a homeowner, we’ll [well] you can learn that one on your own.”
Whittier, California, June 2020 – Whittier City Council Member Jessica Martinez made repeated racist and Islamophobic tweets targeting Muslims, Asians, and indigenous people. On June 2, Martinez replied to a conservative pundit who shared a story about Rep. Ilhan Omar saying the Minneapolis police should disband: “So that they can institute a muslim [sic] sharia law community patrol?”
On Sept. 17, 2019, Martinez replied to a conservative blogger who posted about Rep. Omar that Omar “can go back to wherever she came from and REALLY be a victim.”
San Jose, California, June 2020 – On a private Facebook group named 10-7ODSJ, a retired SJPD police officer posted a link about a Los Angeles police officer pulling off a woman’s hijab. Mark Pimentel, an active SJPD officer who was recently documented policing protests while refusing to wear a mask, commented on the post “Hell, I would have pulled it over her face.” When another retired police officer posted about Black Lives Matter, calling them “racist idiots,” “un-American” and “enemies”, Mark Pimentel, again, chimed in and replied, “black lives really don’t matter.”
*In 2015, Sergeant Chris Sciba posted a graphic image on his Facebook page which stereotyped all Muslims as being terrorists. He is currently an SJPD trainer on race-bias policing. The author of the Medium article writes, “They (SJPD) hired Sciba to teach on the very subject of race-bias policing, we have to ask if SJPD shares the same view that Sciba has on Muslims, and allows such racist stereotypes to exist.”
Baltimore, Maryland, July 2020 – In a social media post, then Calvert County Board of Education candidate Dawn Keen claimed that “equity stuff was planned by terrorists, and [the constituent who challenged her false interpretation of equity was] hoodwinked by Islamist terrorism.”
Keen also commented that people “whose skin is Black work less” than people “whose skin is white”, and that “equity is racism.”
Maywood, California, July 2020 – Maywood City Clerk Gerardo Mayagoitia posted an image on Facebook of the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center with the caption:
“I Haven’t Forgotten 9-11 Have You??
“Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar has No Problem with what happened on 911 as a Matter of fact she belongs to CAIR an Organization that supports Terrorist who were involved on the attack of the World Trade Center.” Other Facebook posts showed conspiracies linked to the Black Lives Matter movement and Reps. Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, dubbed “The Squad.”55
Washington, D.C., July 2020 – Trump retweeted a July 21st post by Paul Sperry, who wrote, “BREAKING: Biden wishes public schools taught more about Islam; promises Muslims he will end terrorism-related ban on immigration from high-risk Islamic nations “on Day One.”
According to Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, Sperry has blamed Islam for the spread of the Ebola virus, called former President Barack Obama the “defender-in-chief of Islam,” warned of an “Islamic fifth column” growing inside America, accused tax reform activist Grover Norquist of “ties to militant Muslim activists,” and written multiple debunked books attacking Islam and Muslims.
Lafayette, Louisiana, July 2020 – Lafayette Parish Mayor-President appointed Connie Boyer to the Heymann Performing Arts & Frem Boustany Convention Center Advisory Commission. In a “repost” from July 25, Ms. Boyer referred to President Obama as a “Muslim President” who created “Muslim districts so those 4 Muslims could have seats in our Congress.”
Grand Chute, Wisconsin, August 2020 – Fox Valley Technical College’s spokesman, Chris Jossart, commented “Islam is all over the world infiltrating every nation, and (Joe) Biden wants their beliefs in our already tainted public school curriculum.” to a Jerusalem Post article shared on LinkedIn.
He also “liked” a post that included a photo of Michael Brown accompanied by text reading, “I’m Michael Brown. I’m dead. Shot by a cop while I was trying to grab his gun. Right after I stole from a convenience store. To Democrats, I’m a martyr.”
Berkeley County, South Carolina, August 2020 – Berkeley County Councilman Tommy Newell posted a photo of himself as “Shiek of Berkeley County” on Facebook. The photo included people wearing a traditional Arab “kaffiyeh” headscarf, as well as an Islamic “kufi” (skullcap) and “niqab” (face veil). He also stated in part “I had ultimate and absolute honor of playing a terrorist…”
Indianapolis, Indiana, November 2020 – John Jacob, a Republican from Indianapolis posted comments on Facebook saying that Islam cannot coexist in the United States and that Muslims are traitors who should be deported. He also mentioned that the Roman Catholic Church is a cult of Satan and that its parishioners should repent and leave the Church.
Austin, Texas, September 2020 – Texas assistant attorney general Nick Moutos made racist a series of tweets one in which he called Islam a “virus.” He also threatened Black Lives Matter protesters and has regularly referred to the organizers as “terrorists.”
Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 2020 – An unidentified Cambridge police officer made a tweet stating “They are willing to crash the economy and hurt millions of hard working people to get Trump out. Today’s Democrats are American Jihadists.”
Brentwood, Tennessee, December 2020 – Jerry Morgan, a Tennessee legal watchdog, made a series of anti-Muslim comments on Twitter praising President Donald Trump for “stopping Muslims” and “talking big against Muslims,” according to a Nov. 24 court filing. Morgan said Islam was not a peaceful religion and made comments linking the faith with violence and “Muslim terrorists.”
Chicago, Illinois, December 2020 – John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, said “Savages they all deserve a bullet” in reference to Muslims in a statement on Facebook.
Anti-Muslim Comments Discovered in 2019
Winkler County, Texas, January 2019 – Winkler Co. Commissioner showed a dislike of Muslims in a Facebook post. Hope Fernandez Williams wrote, “How about building a Bar-B-Que next door, maybe a gay strip club, and then see how tolerant they are!”
Sangamon County, Illinois, January 2019 – Anti-Muslim post appears on the Sangamon County circuit clerk’s Facebook page. Former presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said that Muslims are out to destroy Christianity briefly appeared on the Facebook page of Sangamon County circuit clerk Pal Palazzolo on Tuesday night.
Chicago, Illinois, February 2019 – Chicago Cubs patriarch, Joe Ricketts, included comments in an email about Muslims being natural enemies in one email stating: “Christians and Jews can have a mutual respect for each other to create a civil society. As you know, Islam cannot do that. Therefore, we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society. Muslims are naturally my (our) enemy due to their deep antagonism and bias against non-Muslims.”
Hamilton Township, New Jersey, February 2019 – Hamilton Republicans shared anti-Muslim Facebook posts. Robert DiPastina, who works for the township public works department, and his wife Colleen DiPastina, who works as a civilian Hamilton Police secretary, both shared anti-Muslim content on Facebook. Content included an anti-Muslim image depicting a bearded man in a Kufi skullcap sitting on a toilet seat, with the Starbucks logo. “This is a Muslim. They don’t use toilet paper. They use their hand. This is Starbucks. They vow to hire 10,000 Muslims,” the post said.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 2019 – Plum School Board member Brian Wisniewski caused outrage by sharing a post of a picture of a man holding a gun with the American flag as a backdrop with the words: “Does it worry anybody that we have three devout Muslims in Congress who have unlimited access to our TOP SECRET GOVERNMENT DOCUMENTS?”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 2019 – Frank Scavo is the president of Old Forge School Board in Lackawanna County, as well as a Republican candidate for state representative. In social media posts, Mr. Scavo portrayed Muslims as terrorists, pedophiles, and rapists on his personal Facebook and Twitter accounts during the last four years.
White Hall, Arkansas, March 2019 – Mark Jelks, an Arkansas school principal, shared social media posts stating, “Kick Islam out of America. You cant [sic]walk with God holding hands with the devil.”
Yucaipa County, San Bernardino, April 2019 – Bobby Duncan, who has served on the Yucaipa City Council since 2012 and was appointed mayor in December, peppers his Facebook wall with memes carrying anti-Islamic and anti-undocumented immigrant messages. “I don’t know about you, but I am 100% anti-Islam and anti-Sharia! Who else is with me and feels the same way?” “Islamophobic: A bulls— term invented to vilify and silence anyone being honest about mankind’s most violent supremacist culture.
N/A, April 2019 – A tweet by former President Trump included a snippet from a speech Congresswoman Ilhan Omar gave to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in which she described the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center as “some people did something,” along with news footage of the hijacked airplanes hitting the Twin Towers. Mr. Trump vowed in the tweet that “WE WILL NEVER FORGET!”
San Bernardino, California, April 2019 – Fontana Police Department’s Twitter account called U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib “un-American” and a “disgrace” and also mentioned an eating disorder. The tweet was a result of hacking, a police spokesman said.
St. Lawrence County, New York, April 2019 – St. Lawrence County lawmaker Rita Curran posted an Islamophobic post featuring a 9/11 image of the North Tower burning at the World Trade Center as a second plane is about to hit the South Tower. Above the image, Curran wrote “Every time a Muslim stand up (sic) in Congress and tells us they are going to change the Constitution, impeach the president, or vote for socialism, remember you swore you would never forget. They swore they would destroy us from within.”
St. Louis, Missouri, May 2019 – One post by Lewis & Clark Community College Board of Trustees Chairman David Heyen refers to Muslim Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as a “snake you are allowing in the Country.”
Coffee County, Tennessee, May 2019 – Tennessee’s Coffee County District Attorney Craig Northcott wrote in a Facebook comment that being Muslim is “no different than being part of the KKK, Aryan Nation, etc” and that the Islam belief system is “evil, violent and against God’s truth.”
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 2019 – Former officers created Facebook posts including images of the Confederate flag, call for immigrants to speak English, criticize Islam, encourage violence, and more.
Dallas, Texas, June 2019 – Dallas officers shared a post of every terrorist incident initiated by Muslims to target them, “the shoe bomber was Muslim” and “the Bellway [Beltway] snipers were Muslim.”
N/A, June 2019 – President Trump retweeted renowned Islamophobe Katie Hopkins who once called for a “final solution” on Islamic terrorism.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, September 2019 – A police academy graduate by the name of Wayne Brown shared a post stating, “I pledge to my family, flag, and country. When the day comes I will fight to my last breath before I submit to Islam.” He was then terminated for this troubling post.
Sikeston, Missouri, September 2019 – An officer with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety made comments against Muslims on social media, including: “I get to choose whom I dislike and it just so happens to be all muslims [sic] and their beliefs.”
Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 2019 – President Trump retweeted a video falsely claiming Congresswoman Ilhan Omar danced on the anniversary of 9/11.
Douglas County, Colorado, September 2019 – Douglas County GOP shared a Facebook post attacking Muslims. The post states, “Every time a Moslem (sic) stands up in Congress and tells us they will change the Constitution, impeach our President, or vote for Socialism, remember you said you would never forget. They said they would destroy us from within.”
Raritan Township, New Jersey, October 2019 – Lou Reiner resigned as deputy mayor of Raritan Township for a post he shared on his Facebook page that called Islam a cancer that “must be treated with radiation.”
Portland, Maine, October 2019 – Hal Pierce, chairman of the Combat Sports Authority of Maine made Islamophobic posts including the word “infidel” superimposed over an American flag and an image of bacon with the text “Pork Fact #76: People who eat bacon are less likely to blow themselves up.”
Total = CAIR identified 40 instances between 2019 and 2020 where institutional leaders used social media platforms to spread anti-Muslim animus.
Section 5: Islamophobia and Politics
Islamophobia has both interpersonal and institutional manifestations. We have observed that individuals who hold anti-Muslim attitudes have been given positions of power and influence over policy and international relations over several presidential administrations. Therefore, we can see the state endorsing and pushing anti-Muslim policies such as the Muslim Ban, refusal to close Guantanamo Bay prison, and producing egregious surveillance policies. This section highlights individuals who served in the Trump administration who have a history of anti-Muslim sentiment. We also shed light on Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s history of Islamophobia, attacks on Muslim Congressional members, anti-Islam legislation, and how particular members of the GOP have normalized relations with anti-Muslim politicians overseas such as Geert Wilders.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene’s History of Islamophobia
Representative Greene is no stranger to Islamophobia. The Congresswoman from Georgia has been exposed multiple times for her anti-Muslim rhetoric. Greene has suggested that Muslims do not belong in government, thinks black people “are held slaves to the Democratic Party,”; and called George Soros a Nazi. In reference to the 2018 midterms, she stated that it was part of “an Islamic invasion of our government” and that “anyone that is a Muslim that believes in Sharia law does not belong in our government.”
In 2018, Greene also agreed with a Facebook commenter who claimed that 9/11 “was done by our gov[ernment]” and that “none of the school shootings were real or done by the ones who were supposedly arrested for them.” She also stated that the Parkland school shooting was actually “a deep state warning to the pocket puppets in the house and senate” and that Sandy Hook was a “STAGGED [sic] SHOOTING.”
Moreover, a February 2019 video resurfaced on social media showing Greene attempting to force Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib to retake their congressional oaths on the Bible. She stated, “We’re going to explain about how you can’t swear in on the Quran,” Greene said in the footage. “We’re going to have the Bible and ask them if they would swear in on the Bible … I think that’s important.”
Attacks on Muslim Congressional Members
Whether running for a school board, city council, state legislature, or Congress, working as an elected public official as an American-Muslim is no easy task. Muslim elected officials have faced a wave of attacks for their identities and have been consistently targeted because of their advocacy of Palestinian human rights. More notably, Muslim members of Congress have been hit by a wave of Islamophobic attacks.
In December 2019, a Guardian investigation found that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, both Muslim elected officials, were targeted by a vast international operation that exploits far-right pages on Facebook to inflame Islamophobia for profit. The Guardian stated, “A mysterious Israeli-based group uses 21 Facebook pages to churn out more than a thousand coordinated fake news posts per week to more than a million followers around the world. It milks the traffic for revenue from digital advertising.” The investigation also noted that Representative Omar was the most frequent target and that she was mentioned in more than 1,400 posts since the network began two years ago. Tlaib has been mentioned nearly 1,200 times.
Representative Omar and Tlaib are not alone; Representative Carson has also been a target of Islamophobia. In January 2021, a handwritten note of a Capitol Hill coup terrorist suspect was discovered. The note contained a “good guy” and “bad guy” list. Although the handwritten note does not explicitly label Carson as a “good” or “bad” guy, it indicates he is one of a small number of Muslims serving in the House. The note also included Judge David Hamilton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as a “bad guy” and described conservative media personalities as “good guys.”
Lonnie Coffman, the suspect, was arrested after the deadly Capitol coup attempt. Officials discovered 11 Molotov cocktails, explosive devices, an M4 carbine assault rifle, ammo, and two handguns, along with the handwritten messages in his truck.
Anti-Muslim Activity in 2020
Washington, D.C, April 2020 – President Trump appointed Kayleigh McEnany as White House press secretary, who has a long history of defending and promoting anti-Muslim bigotry.
In 2014, McEnany participated in a Fox Business news segment titled “How big of a threat is Islam?” during which she sat alongside white supremacist Proud Boys co-founder Gavin McInnes. McEnany repeatedly hyped the threat of extremism among Muslims, while McInnes argued that Muslims are prone to violence because of genetic defects caused by “inbreeding.”
In 2016, McEnany wrote on Twitter: “Obama endlessly preaches tolerance of Islam but never mentions this — ‘Genocide: Christian Population in Iraq Drops 80% in a Decade.’
In 2017, McEnany wrote an op-ed for The Hill decrying “far-left” German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European nations allowing Muslim refugees to enter their borders, which McEnany claimed, “resulted in a culture in crisis – a culture without democratic, freedom-loving identity and constantly under murderous attack from cancers within.”
In March 2019, while working as Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign national press secretary, McEnany downplayed the president’s past anti-Muslim comment, “I think Islam hates us,” by mentioning that Trump “had many Muslim friends.”
Pella, Iowa, April 2020 – Rick Phillips, then-candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives District IA-02, stated on his campaign website that “Islam should be recognized as a hostile ideology antithetical to the United States Constitution” and that “It should have its religious status revoked.” He also falsely claimed that a “mosque is nothing more than a military outpost where the seeds of hatred are sown against our country.”
In an interview with a local television station, Phillips claimed Islam is not a faith that is protected by the First Amendment, which he claims applies only to Christianity.
He also attacked Muslim members of Congress Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and claimed, “they moved 70,000 Somalians in up there to vote for her [Omar].”
Washington, D.C., April 2020 – President Trump nominated anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Ret. Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata to the position of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. In 2019, Tata authored a novel titled “Double Crossfire” that falsely claimed young Muslim men in Great Britain engage in the “gang-raping [of] British women as part of their transition to manhood” and such crimes are covered up by the government and media. This anti-Muslim trope is widely used by Islamophobic far-right groups and white supremacists in Europe.
In 2018, Tata also said on Fox News that “there is intent to harm Western society by Islam” and “it’s a truism that has to be built into policy so we can strengthen our borders.”
Washington, D.C, May 2020 – In May 2020, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) appointed Mark Kevin Lloyd, who has a history of anti-Muslim comments, as the new Religious Freedom Advisor. In 2016, while working as the Virginia Field Director for then-candidate Trump, Lloyd came under fire for sharing several bigoted posts, including one that referred to Islam as “a barbaric cult” and another characterizing Islam as inherently violent.
In the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting, Lloyd shared a Facebook meme suggesting potential gun buyers eat bacon before being allowed to purchase a firearm.
Washington, D.C., July 2020 – Brandon Bolling was hired by the Justice Department to be an assistant chief immigration judge in Texas in July 2020. Bolling previously worked for the Thomas More Law Center, which is known for its litigation against the religious rights of Muslims in the United States.
According to the Center, American-Muslims are using litigation to perform a “stealth jihad” in to [sic] transform America into an “Islamic nation.” The Center’s work involves litigation and propaganda warfare against the religion of Islam, American-Muslims and their civil rights, including lawsuits against Michigan public schools that held a diversity training focused on Muslim culture and religious competency.
Washington, D.C., July 2020 – President Trump appointed former Breitbart writer, white supremacist sympathizer, and anti-Muslim bigot Sebastian Gorka to the National Security Education Board. According to the main website of the NSEP, the “NSEP plays an ever-increasing role in creating a workforce ready to serve 21st century national security needs. NSEP is a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.”
Gorka has been criticized for his Islamophobic views, including once calling religious profiling of Muslims “common sense” and declining on several occasions to say whether President Trump believes Islam is a real religion. Gorka also served as a frequent guest at events and on a radio show hosted by Gaffney, the founder of the Center for Security Policy, a D.C.-based anti-Islam think tank.
Washington, D.C., August 2020 – President Trump appointed Retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor to become the US ambassador to Germany. Macgregor claimed that Muslim migrants were coming to Europe “with the goal of eventually turning Europe into an Islamic state.” He criticized Germany for giving “millions of unwanted Muslim invaders” welfare benefits rather than providing more funding for its armed services.
Anti-Muslim Activity in 2019
Washington, D.C., January 14, 2019 – The Trump Administration appointed Charles M. Kupperman, an individual with close ties to known Islamophobes and anti-Muslim organizations, as deputy national security adviser. Kupperman had close ties with Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), which was designated as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 2015. In addition to serving on CSP’s board for almost a decade, Kupperman postulated in a 2009 article in The Washington Times that former President Barack Obama might secretly be a Muslim.
Washington, D.C., January 31, 2019 – Former President Donald Trump considered Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate, and American businessman, for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. In an interview with a journalist for the news website, Think Progress, Cain was asked, “ Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?”. To which Cain answered, “No, I will not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt … to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government.”
Washington, D.C., February 1, 2019 – Anti-Muslim legislation, Senate Bill 29, was proposed by South Carolina Republican State Senator Larry Grooms. This bill, modeled on other Islamophobic legislation, would ban the application of foreign law in South Carolina. While Senate Bill 29 did not mention Sharia law by name, anti-foreign laws such as this target Islamic religious principles and exacerbate the public’s fear about Muslim-Americans.
Washington, D.C., February 4, 2019 – Former President Donald Trump chose former Fox News host Heather Nauert to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN). Nauert advanced unfounded Sharia law conspiracy theories in a 2009 Fox News special webcast entitled, “ Terror from Within,” which hosted known anti-Muslim activists Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, and Tarek Fatah. She introduced the 2009 webcast program as exploring “a school of thought that there is a stealthy jihad taking place within the US. And the theory is that some in our country want to destroy our America from within.” She stated that individuals would achieve this destruction “by using our own legal system against us, by undermining our financial system and even taking away our holidays.” In 2013, the former host for “Fox and Friends” also stated on air that “Sharia law is now changing everything” while covering a story on a religiously accommodated YMCA swim class for Muslim girls.
Washington, D.C., June 13, 2019 – Anti-Islam legislation, Senate Bill 99, was put forth before the Delaware Senate Judicial Committee. The bill, drafted by notorious Islamophobe David Yerushalmi, declared it the public policy of Delaware to protect citizens from the application of “foreign law.” The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator Dave Lawson had also previously publicly expressed anti-Muslim sentiment. In 2017 following a Senate invocation led by two Muslim faith leaders, Senator Lawson stated, “We just heard from the Quran, which calls for our very demise. I fought for this country, not to be damned by someone that comes in here and prays to their God for our demise. I think that’s despicable.”
Washington, D.C., June 19, 2019 – Islamophobe Tony Perkins, was appointed to become chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Perkins has a long history of making Islamophobic comments and supporting anti-Muslim rhetoric and movements.102 In 2014 Perkins stated on a radio show, “We are a nation that was founded on JudeoChristian principles, that’s the foundation of our nation, not Islam, but the Judeo-Christian God.” In a 2015 email, he wrote, “What most people either don’t realize or willfully ignore is that only 16 percent of Islam is a religion — the rest is a combination of military, judicial, economic, and political system. Sharia is not a religion in the context of the First Amendment.” Additionally, Perkins’ organization, the Family Research Council, called for a ban on mosques.
Washington, D.C., November 7, 2019 – Former President Donald Trump appointed Steven Menashi as judicial nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Menashi advanced the anti-Muslim pig blood bullet myth put forth and supported by President Trump throughout his presidential campaign. The myth that the U.S. General John Pershing executed 50 captured Muslim insurgents in the Philippines using bullets dipped in pigs’ blood was further advanced in a book review Menashi wrote in 2002. He stated that “Pershing’s approach is probably no longer in the army’s counterterrorism repertoire, but the result was that guerrilla violence ended” and that “the American response to Islamic extremism has not always been so harsh—or as effective.” Menashi’s harmful comments insinuated that such war crimes could be a useful tactic in America’s current war against Islamic terrorism.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 11, 2019 – Former President Donald Trump attacked Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar and Somali immigrants at a Minneapolis campaign rally. Trump asked the crowd, “How do you have such a person representing you in Minnesota?” and stated, “She is a disgrace to our country and she is one of the big reasons I am going to win,” in reference to Representative Omar. This is not the first time that the former President has attacked the Congresswoman and Somali immigrants. Notably, at a North Carolina rally, the past summer Trump encouraged his supporters in a racist “Send her back” chant. Additionally, days before his victory in the 2016 presidential election, Trump labeled Somali immigrants the beneficiaries of a “filthy” policy of admitting refugees.
Cernobbio, Italy, September 9, 2019 – South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham took a photo smiling beside far-right, Dutch politician Geert Wilder at the Ambrosetti Forum, an annual security conference in Italy. Wilder tweeted the photo of the two, which was quickly deleted, with the caption, “Great to meet with U.S. Senator @LindseyGrahamSC.” Wilders is renowned for his controversial views on Islam and for his call for a ban of Muslim immigration to the Netherlands. He has labeled Moroccans “scum” and was convicted last year of inciting mass discrimination against them. Wilders has even compared the Quran to Hitler’s autobiography, “Mein Kampf.”
This report was an attempt to examine the landscape of Islamophobia in 2019 and 2020. To assess the extent of Islamophobia, we looked at five different aspects: funding of the Islamophobia Network, school bullying statistics from 2019 – 2020, anti-mosque incidents, the spread of Islamophobia on social media by institutional leaders, and anti-Muslim figures in the Trump administration.
Our findings demonstrated just how mainstream and acceptable Islamophobia has become. We uncovered the enormous funding poured into the U.S. Islamophobia Network groups by mainstream charitable institutions and foundations. We discovered that more than $105 million was funneled into 26 anti-Muslim groups between 2017 and 2019 to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories about Muslims and Islam.
We then examined how pervasive the issue of school bullying against Muslims is. A survey conducted by CAIR-Texas found that 48% of respondents experienced some type of bullying, including verbal insults, physical abuse, and cyberbullying.
Next, we investigated how institutional leaders, defined as individuals who hold a position of influence or power within our trusted institutions, use social media to spread racist stereotypes about Muslims and Islam. In total, we found 40 instances where institutional leaders shared or posted anti-Muslim content online. This illustrated just how mainstream Islamophobia has become to a point where trusted leaders of our institutions feel that it is acceptable to post anti-Muslim comments about the communities they promise to serve equally. Furthermore, our discovery of 16 anti-mosque incidents between 2019 and 2020 underscores how difficult it is for mainstream Muslim communities to practice their faith without fear of being attacked, harassed, or intimidated.
As demonstrated by the evidence above, Islamophobia is not going anywhere soon. It continues to operate all around us institutionally, socially, and politically. Although Islamophobia may not be over, Muslim communities in the United States, India, Israel, and elsewhere are working together to combat racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination. For example, Muslim communities, along with a range of community advocacy groups, worked together to ensure President Biden ended the Muslim Ban on day one of his administration.
In better news, American-Muslims are running for office in high numbers. A total of 181 Muslim candidates in 28 states and Washington D.C. ran for public office in 2020, the highest number we have recorded. Forty-Seven Muslims ran for state legislatures in 22 states, with 23 winning. At least six made history as the first-ever elected to a state office in their state. And 23 Muslims ran for Congress in 14 states in 2020. These figures exemplify resilience and hope for our communities in a time when the Islamophobia Network remains active and widespread. We will continue to work with our communities and our allies to ensure the Islamophobia Network will come to an end once and for all.