A 2018 report by the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, indicated that bias crimes against Muslims rose 83% in the second quarter of 2018 compared to the first quarter. “Incidents involving government agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have also risen by 60 percent in this time period,” the report noted.
Hate crimes since then have only increased in number, with many going unreported. “We’ve already reported over 500 incidences of anti-Muslim bias or harassment just this year so far,” CAIR’s national research and advocacy director, Abbas Barzegar, told The Daily Beast in May 2019. “That’s very preliminary reporting. I know a number of our chapters have not filed their reports yet… I believe that’s a very low estimate already of what’s happening across the country.” CAIR chapters across the country compile data on hate crimes reported against Muslims.
Muslim women who wear a hijab, called “hijabis,” are more targeted in bias crimes due to their appearance. Discrimination against Muslim women occurs across the country each day, through not only physical hate crimes but also verbal abuse and bias in everyday activities. Hijabis are often prohibited from participating in various activities due to their chosen attire and appearance. Although it is a violation of their civil rights, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, Muslim women have been denied the right to wear a hijab or headscarf in various occupations and have been prevented from wearing it during school activities. In a fact sheet detailing discrimination against Muslim women, the ACLU said:
Teachers in public school have been prevented from wearing religious garb, a bar that has been authorized by some state statutes and upheld by some courts.
Students also have been denied the right to wear hijab to school and have been prevented from participating in extracurricular activities, including musical concerts and athletic events.
The civil rights organization also noted that Muslim women and girls have been denied access to public buildings unless they agree to be searched by male guards or remove their hijabs and other religious attire. While many of these incidents go unreported due to fear and stigma, some have made headlines, with victims reporting them in hopes of creating more awareness. In 2017, a high school student took to social media to share that her teacher had pulled her hijab off in front of students while she was talking to a friend. "So my hijab was ripped off my head today," she tweeted, according to NBC. Other students shared their experiences online as well.
Last month, Daily Kos reported on an incident of discrimination against a Muslim woman in which a Southwest Airlines flight attendant allegedly threatened to throw a hijabi off a plane because passengers felt “uncomfortable.” This incident was also shared through social media and drew national attention.
According to the ACLU, an “expert has found that Muslim women who wear headscarves are more likely than those who do not to face discrimination: 69% of women who wore hijab reported at least one incident of discrimination compared to 29% of women who did not wear hijab.”