"Employers argue that employees wearing a head scarf can make colleagues feel uncomfortable or that they don't fit into their company's image," said Marco Perolini, Amnesty's discrimination expert and co-author of the report. "Rather than countering these prejudices, political parties and public officials are all too often pandering to them in their quest for votes."
In the Center for American Progress report, analysts blamed the fears stirred about Muslims in North America on a handful of ideologues and well-heeled institutions bankrolling their propaganda. Some of the "experts" they accused of spreading false facts about the propensity for Muslims to embrace extremism were cited by Breivik in his rambling manifesto about his attacks in Norway last July that killed 77 people.
In its just-released analysis, the Southern Poverty Law Center cited FBI national crime statistics showing a jump from 107 anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2009 to 160 in 2010, noting that the federal agency's statistics "are known to vastly understate the real level of hate crime."
The rise was the most dramatic since the first months after Sept. 11, when attacks on Muslims rose 1,600% to 481 by the end of 2001, said Mark Potok, editor of the law center's latest intelligence report.
"The anti-Muslim wave that we saw in 2010, in my opinion, has been entirely ginned up by opportunistic politicians and professional Islamophobes," Potok said.
He expects the trend to continue once hate crime statistics for last year are available, citing the rash of anti-sharia bills and fierce resistance to construction of mosques in communities including Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Sheboygan, Wis.; and Temecula, Calif.
"What public figures say really matters," Potok said. "We still have police and sheriffs inviting in hard-line Islamophobes to teach law enforcement about Muslims."