Civil Rights Report 2017: The Empowerment of Hate

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Civil Rights Report 2017: The Empowerment of Hate assembles a wealth of data to offer a larger and more comprehensive reflection of the civil rights implications of Islamophobic bias in the United States.


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In addition to providing raw numbers on anti-Muslim bias incidents, this report offers case studies to humanize the targeted individuals and analyzes civil rights issues pertaining to the American Muslim community. The contents of the report include:

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Key Findings

Islamophobic bias continues its trend toward increasing violence. In 2016, CAIR recorded a 57 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents over 2015. This was accompanied by a 44 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same period.

From 2014 to 2016, anti-Muslim bias incidents jumped 65 percent. In that two-year period, CAIR finds that hate crimes targeting Muslims surged 584 percent.

Total Hate Crimes





Harassment, a non-violent or non-threatening bias incident, was the most frequent type of abuse in 2016, accounting for 18 percent of the total number of incidents. Incidents during which the complainant was questioned by FBI employees or otherwise appeared to be inappropriately targeted by the agency made up 15 percent of cases, making this the second largest category. Employment issues—including denial of work, being passed over for promotion, or harassment by a supervisor or other senior staff—were the third largest category, accounting for 13 percent of the total. Hate crimes placed fourth, accounting for 12 percent of the cases CAIR documented. Denials of religious accommodation, for instance when a complainant is denied permission to wear a headscarf at work or have a Quran in their jail cell, were the fifth most frequent, accounting for 8 percent of total anti-Muslim bias incidents.

Top 5 Type of Bias Incidents

Top 5 Triggers






The most prevalent trigger of an anti-Muslim bias incident in 2016 was the victim’s ethnicity or national origin, accounting for 35 percent of the total. 16 percent of incidents occurred as a result of a woman wearing a headscarf. Other miscellaneous Muslim activity—events such as rallies, community picnics, or a day at the state capitol visiting legislators organized primarily for Muslims—constituted an additional 11 percent. An individual’s name was the next most common trigger factor, accounting for 8 percent of the incidents. The fifth trigger was the target being a place of worship. This calculated to 6 percent of the total.

Top Federal Agency Incidents

Of the 2016 incidents for which federal government entities were identified as the instigator: the FBI accounted for 62 percent, TSA accounted for 15 percent, CBP accounted for 12 percent, USCIS accounted for 4 percent, and ICE accounted for 2 percent.

Preliminary data reveals that cases of U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) profiling accounted for 23 percent of all Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) case intakes in the first three months of 2017.

Note: Any case listed in this report as containing an element of religious discrimination has undergone a thorough vetting process which seeks to ensure the highest possible form of accuracy.