“By challenging anti-Muslim bigotry, we can help reduce anti-American attitudes in the Islamic world,” said Awad.

WASHINGTON, January 14 (IslamOnline.net) – The largest US Muslim civil liberties called on the State Department to issue a report on Islamophobia across the world, as American Muslims have complained of more anti-Islam TV rants.

The proposal was made when the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and several other Muslim and Arab-American groups met Thursday, January 13, with top State Department officials to discuss a number of issues related to American foreign policy, according to CAIR’s Web site.

CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad presented in the meeting — attended by Assistant Secretary Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher and Ambassador William Burns — a proposal for cooperative efforts to challenge both Islamophobia and anti-Americanism.

The proposal includes such measures as producing a report on the
growing phenomenon of Islamophobia, conferences in this country and in the
Muslim world to discuss both Islamophobia and Anti-Americanism and domestic
and international “goodwill ambassadors” who can speak about both topics.

“By challenging anti-Muslim bigotry, we can help reduce anti-American attitudes in the Islamic world.

“And by having American Muslims speak out in support of their nation’s values, while at the same time maintaining essential credibility on issues of importance to Muslims worldwide, we undercut growing Islamophobic views in our society,” read the report, carried by the group in a press release Thursday.

Awad described the meeting as “open and forward-looking.”

Anti-Semitism

The meeting came after the State Department released its first report on global anti-Semitism January 5, taking a country-by-country survey of anti-Semitism worldwide from July 2003, to December 15, 2004.

The report was mandated by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, which was approved by US President George W. Bush in October.

Influential Jewish leaders applauded the move, saying the very fact that Congress enacted legislation requiring the State Department to issue annual reports is “extremely important and highly significant.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, having 30 offices and
chapters nationwide and in Canada.

Pro-Islam Spots

CAIR said in earlier reports and surveys that attacks against Muslims have been on the rise in the United States since the 9/11/2001 deadly attacks.

The recent slur against Muslims was carried in the Fox TV hit show “24”, which featured an upper-middle class Muslim family operating as a sleeper “terrorist cell”.

In the drama, premiered Monday, January 9, the Muslim mother poisons her son’s non-Muslim girlfriend because it was feared the girl could jeopardize the terrorists’ plan.

The Fox television network said it would provide its stations with TV spots that portray Muslims in a favorable way after it received complaints for featuring followers of Islam as terrorists on the television show.

A Fox spokesman was quoted by Reuters Friday, January 14, as saying it would provide public service announcements sponsored by CAIR to its affiliate stations.

The move was in response to the Islamic council’s complaints about the show.

“What we are hoping to do is to try and mitigate the damages of the stereotypes because it can bring real-life consequences on American Muslims and their lives here,” said Rabiah Ahmed, spokeswoman for the Islamic group.

Citing a public opinion survey conducted by Cornell University last year, Ahmed said television influences viewers’ perceptions of Muslims.

“There aren’t any positive or even neutral portrayals of Muslims on TV; whenever Muslims or Arabs are portrayed it is always in a stereotypical way,” she said.

“What we are hoping to do is to try and mitigate the damages of the stereotypes because it can bring real-life consequences on American Muslims and their lives here,” said Ahmed.

“When average Americans don’t have any personal interaction with Muslims, whether it be at work or at school, they base their perception of Islam and Muslims from what they see on TV,” she added.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan opened in December a seminar on combating Islamophobia through education, inclusion and example.

Annan also warned in an earlier black-tie dinner at the UN headquarters in January that Islamophobia poses a challenge to  the spirit that he said unites peoples across the globe.

He said that since the 9/11 attacks “many Muslims, particularly in the West, have found themselves the objects of suspicion, harassment and discrimination.”

“Too many people see Islam as a monolith and as intrinsically opposed to the West. Caricature remains widespread and the gulf of ignorance is dangerously deep.”