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US Muslim rights complaints up 25 percent in 2006: CAIR

[JURIST] Rights complaints by Muslims in the US rose 25 percent in 2006, according to an annual report on civil rights [PDF text; press release] released Thursday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) [advocacy website]. The group attributed the jump to a rise in anti-Muslim bias, particularly seen in cases involving delays in immigration proceedings. The majority of reported complaints came against government agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice [official websites]. The 890 complaints filed against federal agencies in 2006 more than doubled the 2005 value of 380 complaints. Hate crime complaints rose by over 9 percent between 2005 and 2006, but declined as a percentage of all complaints. Such filings involved physical attacks against individuals and mosques because of religious preference. Incidents of anti-Muslim bias rose 2005 [JURIST report] as well, according to CAIR.

The study offered several recommendations to reduce instances of reported discrimination, including increasing outreach and education efforts by Muslims, and seeking government assistance in tackling the rising levels of Islamophobia in the US. The group also urged that the process of obtaining citizenship be expedited, citing the recent resolution of a five year delay [CAIR press release] of a Chicago Muslim in obtaining citizenship. The applicant passed the citizenship exam in 2002, and took part in repeated interviews, however his application was delayed for several years due to a pending DHS background check. CAIR is currently involved in a class action lawsuit against DHS, seeking the establishment of a limit on the amount of time such background checks can take. Reuters has more.

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