Islamic leaders are concerned that the increasingly heated debate over the mosque near ground zero is stirring up anti-Muslim rhetoric that could incite violence and hate crimes.
In the wake of a knife attack on a Muslim New York City taxi driver, Islamic leaders are calling for an end to anti-Muslim rhetoric that many say has proliferated on talk radio and cable TV amid the heated debate over the planned Islamic center near ground zero.
Many prominent Muslim-American leaders say they are alarmed by what they deem "anti-Muslim hysteria" that could lead to violence and hate crimes.
“I have been working on behalf of other Muslims for more than 30 years and I have never see it like this, not even after the 9/11 attacks,” says Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington.
Mr. Hooper blames the harshness of language toward Muslims not just on the heated protests over the Islamic center planned for a site 2-1/2 blocks from ground zero, but also on right-wing rabble rousing, continuing resentment over the election of Barack Obama, and the difficult economy.
“We’ve had a perfect storm for Islamophobia,” Hooper says.
Erica Payne, the founder of a New York nonprofit called the Agenda Project, blames politicians of both parties for not speaking out more forcefully against what she called an increase in hate speech directed at Muslims.