U.S Muslims fear rising tide of discrimination

Aug 14 2006 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Harassment and discrimination against Muslims is rising in America, both within the workplace and in society as a whole, a new poll has suggested.

The poll of 1,007 Americans by researcher Gallup for the newspaper USA Today showed strong, and rising, anti-Muslim feeling.

A total of 39 per cent those polled said they felt at least some prejudice against Muslims.

The same percentage favoured requiring Muslims - including U.S citizens - to carry a special ID "as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States".

About a third felt U.S Muslims were sympathetic to al-Qaeda, and 22 per cent said they would not want Muslims as neighbours.

Verbal harassment and discrimination were contributing to worsening levels of mental health among Muslims and Arab-Americans since 9/11, psychologist Mona Amer of Yale University School of Medicine, told the newspaper.

The paper also cited the example of Motaz Elshafi, a software engineer, who casually opened an internal e-mail at work last month, only to find a message beginning "dear terrorist".

A survey by Yale's Amer of 611 Arab-American adults found that about half had symptoms of clinical depression, compared with 20 per cent in an average U.S group.

Muslims, who made up 70 per cent of the poll, had poorer mental health than Christians.

Muslim spiritual leaders have also reported a surge in worshipers seeking help for anxiety and stress related to possible discrimination.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported the number of assault and other discriminatory complaints rocketing, from 1,019 in 2003 to 1,972 in 2005.

Discriminatory acts in everyday life Ė in shops, schools and at work Ė are being reported frequently to the council, it said.