The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, released a first of its kind report in Oklahoma that documents some Muslim-Americans complaints of civil rights violations in our state.
From screaming at a Muslim family in a restaurant without provocation to being passed over for a job because of a religious article of clothing, those things are happening in our state according to the CAIR Oklahoma Civil Rights report released just Wednesday.
CAIR said it investigates all reports of discrimination, and that in the last year 42 percent of those reports did show evidence of discrimination, according to civil rights director Veronica Laizure.
Many times that discrimination happens after reports of terrorist attacks like the most recent attack in San Bernardino in early December. Authorities called the shooters Muslim radicals.
“Every time an incident occurs we notice a spike in Islamophobic incidents,” said Laizure.
In the last year, the majority of complaints32 percent– are denial of religious accommodation. A close second at 27-percent are harassment related.
CAIR board chairman Saad Mohammed said he’s had his fair share of tough encounters too. He talked to Fox 25 about teaching himself to see the positive in people even when a large group attacked his character and religion during an educational talk at a Christian church.
“I don’t want to mention the church, but it was a very trying night, and that was the most difficult time I have had,” said Mohammed
Another harassment complaint happened in an Edmond restaurant this summer. Laizure says a man came to a Muslim family’s table and threatened the women and children.
According to the report, police were called. Laizure said that people who verbally attack innocent families have one goal.
“To make American-Muslims feel like they are not fully part of American society. It makes them feel like they cannot all of the same activities, the same rights that everyone else can enjoy, simply because of their faith,” said Laizure.
Mohammed said his goal is to continue educational speeches in Oklahoma, so that he can remind his community about what Oklahoma Muslims are looking for.
“We are American people living in this country and trying our best to help ourselves and our community. We are trying to help our society. Even if we are from abroad, we are in this country to be a benefit. Not a burden,” said Mohammed.
The biggest civil rights victory for Oklahoma Muslims in 2015 went all the way to the US Supreme Court. Fox 25 told you about it in June. Samantha Elauf from Tulsa was not hired for a clothing sales job because of her hijab. She sued and the court ruled in her favor.
CAIR Oklahoma said it plans to make the Civil Rights report a yearly release. This way it can track any changes in the treatment of the Muslim community in Oklahoma.