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In final months of 2023, number of Islamophobic, antisemitic incidents up in Massachusetts

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More than half the Islamophobic workplace incidents in Massachusetts took place in the last three months of 2023, according to a new analysis from CAIR Massachusetts, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Overall the state saw a 53% increase in reports, as compared to 2022, when 14 incidents were reported to CAIR.

In 2023, 68 incidents were reported overall; 36 were reported between Oct. 7 and Dec 31. The period of increased reports coincides with the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in Israel, and Israel's ongoing bombing in Gaza that's led to a humanitarian crisis.

Tahira Amatul-Wadud of CAIR said the majority of those incidents reported included some kind of censorship by an employer of an employee's private social media account.

"Some statement in solidarity with Palestinians or some statement against the militarism from Israel," Amatul-Wadud said, "and employers will be asking the employee to either remove content or face discipline."

A cursory review indicates 10% of complaints are coming from western Massachusetts, Amatul-Wadud said, adding that other types of incidents reported were of employers issuing "staunchly pro-Israel statements that left many of their Muslim and Arab workers feeling excluded. "

In the same time frame, the Anti-Defamation League in Massachusetts reports antisemitic incidents were also up, four times as many in the last quarter of 2023, than that period in the year before.

The ADL recorded 178 antisemitic incidents in the state between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31, 2023, a spokesperson said in an email, adding that this was a preliminary count. Between that same time period in 2022 the ADL recorded 41 antisemitic incidents in Massachusetts.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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