US anti-Muslim incidents hit record high in 2023 due to Israel-Gaza war

Reported discrimination and attacks against Muslims and Palestinians reached a record high in the U.S. in 2023, driven by rising Islamophobia and bias as the Israel-Gaza war raged late in the year, data from an advocacy group showed on Tuesday.

Complaints totaled 8,061 in 2023, a 56% rise from the year before and the highest since the Council on American-Islamic Relations began records nearly 30 years ago. About 3,600 of those incidents occurred from October to December, CAIR said.

Human rights advocates have similarly reported a global rise in Islamophobia, anti-Palestinian bias and antisemitism since the latest eruption of conflict in the Middle East.

U.S. incidents have included the fatal October stabbing of 6-year-old Palestinian American Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois, the November shooting of three students of Palestinian descent in Vermont and the February stabbing of a Palestinian American man in Texas.

CAIR’s report said 2023 saw a “resurgence of anti-Muslim hate” after the first ever recorded annual drop in complaints in 2022. In the first nine months of 2023, such incidents averaged around 500 a month before jumping to nearly 1,200 a month in the last quarter.

“The primary force behind this wave of heightened Islamophobia was the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine in October 2023,” the report said.

The most numerous complaints in 2023 were in the categories of immigration and asylum, employment discrimination, hate crimes and education discrimination, CAIR said.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s subsequent military assault on Hamas-governed Gaza has killed over 32,000 people, according to the local health ministry, displaced nearly all its 2.3 million population, put Gaza on the brink of starvation and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies.

CAIR said it compiled the numbers by reviewing public statements and videos as well as reports from public calls, emails and an online complaint system. It contacted people whose incidents were reported in the media.


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