Florida Stands Out In Nationwide Islamophobia Study

Jul 7, 2016

A new study points at Florida for Islamophobia in the nation. The report was prepared by University of California, Berkeley’s Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project.

It looks at things like anti-Muslim groups, state laws and political rhetoric.

The report identifies 74 groups it calls the "U.S. Islamophobia Network." Three of those groups are based out of Florida.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida’s Laila Abdelaziz says these are well-funded groups with an anti-Muslim message.

“There’s this institution that’s funded by hundreds of millions of dollars," she said. "That funnels this money through at least 74 organizations to spread misinformation, to spread fear and to intentionally create this idea or this concept that Islam, the Muslim world, Muslim-Americans and the West are mutually exclusive.”

Abdelaziz said the report shows how the network’s agenda influences state legislatures. It highlights two Florida bills signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. 

Florida Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, sponsored both pieces of legislation. One bill was a response to a controversy in Volusia County over a textbook accused of containing Muslim propaganda. The other bill banned the use of foreign laws for certain court cases.

Hays and the governor were not available for comment.

The report also says Florida had five mosque “incidents” last year. That includes a man who left a voicemail threatening to firebomb the Islamic Center of St. Petersburg hours after the Paris terror attacks in November last year.