Given the Council on American-Islamic Relations' track record of exaggerating the frequency of anti-Muslim incidents, data from CAIR's just-released report (PDF here), Same Hate, New Target: Islamophobia and Its Impact in the United States, issued in concert with UC Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender and covering 2009-2010, must be treated with skepticism.
Islamist Watch begins this process by highlighting one factually challenged item in the section "Vandalism, Islamophobic Rhetoric, and Violence Targeting Mosques." The document lists the episode, which IW previously investigated, as having taken place in September 2010 at the "Jamia Mosque" (Masjid Al-Jamia) in Philadelphia. "Thrre [sic] times in one month protestors greeted worshippers, one time trying to block access to building," it declares, with a "source" link provided. Beyond the poor spelling, the month is incorrect, the link returns an error, and the description contorts reality. The following is a brief review of what actually happened.
On the evening of July 3, 2010 — neither September nor the timeframe suggested in a pro-CAIR segment featuring almost identical claims that aired on Philadelphia's CBS 3 last year (video here and text here) — three Christians came to preach, not "protest," on the public sidewalk adjacent to Masjid Al-Jamia. An area security guard told them to stop, which they refused to do, citing the First Amendment. University of Pennsylvania police eventually arrested two of the men, who faced counts of disorderly conduct and obstructing a public passage, a mosque door.
IW attended the trial on November 12, seven months prior to the release of the CAIR report and weeks before the date on which the researchers say they "finalized" their information. Evidence presented in court showed the charges to be wholly unfounded, as footage subpoenaed from the mosque's own camera revealed the missionaries behaving civilly and standing nowhere near a door, let alone blocking it. Assertions that the men had used hateful rhetoric also were neutralized. The judge acquitted them on all counts — easily accessible news that CAIR ignored.
As for the other supposed incidents at the masjid, IW sought confirmation but discovered nothing in police records. Interestingly, the outreach director of CAIR's Philadelphia office (CAIR-PA) told CBS 3 that she had been there during one of the three purported protests, though she never testified about it in court. Did CAIR-PA originate allegations of multiple protests that were later employed by CAIR as part of this discredited example of bigotry?
Islamists fudge the facts, but Berkeley should have stricter standards. Readers are invited to contact Professor Evelyn Nakano Glenn (firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-643-8488), director of the Center for Race and Gender, to request a correction, as well as Professor Robert Birgeneau (email@example.com or 510-642-7464), UC Berkeley chancellor, to ask politely why his institution lent its imprimatur to a study spearheaded by a disreputable group like CAIR.
With its many peculiar facets — one stated goal is for Islam to attain "a 75 percent or higher favorability rating among the general public" — and countless distortions and embellishments just waiting to be cataloged, this is a report that Berkeley could soon regret joining.