First News
Volume:7, Number:43
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Around The World 1
THIS WEEK

Islamophobia on the Rise

| Muhtasim Billah |

Islamophobic incidents involving US Customs and Border Protection officials has increased by around 1,000 percent since January

The number of Islamophobic incidents involving US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials has increased by around 1,000 percent since president Donald Trump took office in January, according to a Muslim activist group. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said preliminary data collated from its branches across the country, found that instances in which officials were accused of profiling Muslims accounted for 23 percent of its caseload in the first three months of 2017.

Of the 193 CBP cases from January-March 2017, 181 were reported after the January 27 Muslim travel ban by the Trump administration. In the first three months of 2016, the group reported 17 cases. Corey Saylor, director of CAIR’s group that monitors Islamophobia, said these are incidents which are 'reported to us and which we examine.' He said his organization looks at these incidents very carefully and around 50 percent are rejected. Saylor said allegations of Islamophobia being leveled at border officials was nothing new. Yet, he said that Trump’s election and the signing of two executive orders to crackdown on undocumented migrants and to refuse entry to citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, was behind the spike in incidents. He claimed that he had no doubt in his mind that these things were connected.

In the aftermath of the travel bans, which have been halted by the courts, there were widespread reports of chaos at US airports, and people were turned away as they sought to board flights to the US at foreign airports. Saylor said he appreciated the difficult job being faced by border officials, but asked that they do it without breaching the US Constitution. He cited testimony of a Customs and Border Protection official from a 2013 lawsuit, who said that the look of a Muslim woman was an indicating factor. The official explained that by the way she wore her hijab one could tell something about her religious conviction. If the hijab was a solid color it indicated religiosity, but if it was a patterned scarf with colors, it was more likely that she was less religious.

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