Sun-Times: Muslim convention to shine a light on hate: Survey of 3,000 to track effects of Islamophobia

Thousands of American Muslims — in Chicago this weekend for a mega convention — are being asked to detail hate directed at them because of their faith.

“The survey will be asking about 3,000 respondents how Islamophobia has affected them and to identify where they see the most examples of it,” Amina Sharif, Chicago spokeswoman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Thursday.

“Chicago is a diverse metropolis, but that doesn’t mean we’re exempt from racial and ethic tensions.”

Council officials will fan out across the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont to interview a random sampling of 30,000 Muslims registered for the 47th annual Islamic Society of North America Convention. Friday night, Gov. Quinn addressed the four-day conference, billed as the largest gathering of its kind.

Panel discussions will touch on a wide variety of issues, from building alliances with members of the Jewish community to exploring the ethical implications of stem cell research.

The variety of topics, said organizers, might counter the kind of stereotypes the council survey seeks to expose.

The research effort comes on the heels of the pipe-bomb attack of a Jacksonville, Fla., mosque. About 60 worshippers were inside. None was injured. The FBI continues to investigate.

Chicago has avoided that kind of incident. Still, the council points to 170 complaints of discrimination filed by area Muslims this year alone.

“In one case, a man was verbally and then physically assaulted in the grocery store,” Sharif said.

The survey aims to take a nationwide snapshot of the pressures facing Muslims nine years after the 9/11 attacks and as American military casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq climb.