Anti-Muslim bigotry is a common and widespread feature of our country’s mainstream cultural and political landscape. However, it is important to remember that Islamophobic attitudes and policies are propagated by special interest groups with deep sources of funding. This decentralized group of actors is known as the Islamophobia Network, a close-knit family of organizations and individuals that share an ideology of extreme anti-Muslim animus, and work with one another to negatively influence public opinion and government policy about Muslims and Islam.
To provide a better understanding of how the Islamophobia Network operates, CAIR’s Islamophobia report Hijacked by Hate maps the flow of funding from charitable organizations to anti-Muslim special interest groups, and their destructive impact on public life.
Hijacked by Hate finds that the Islamophobia Network has been drawing upon mainstream American philanthropic institutions for financial and political support for years. CAIR researchers have found 1,096 organizations responsible for funding 39 groups in the Islamophobia Network between 2014 and 2016. The report also reveals the total revenue capacity of the Islamophobia Network during this period to reach at least $1.5 billion. This money has been channeled into politics, media, law enforcement, educational institutions, lobbying groups, and a whole assortment of industries to advance anti-Muslim and anti-Islam animus in America.
It may come as no surprise that well-known anti-Muslim groups, such as ACT for America or the Middle East Forum, despite once being considered fringe voices in the public sphere, have enjoyed rapid growth in funding and infuence in the current political moment. What is less known and more shocking is that the Islamophobia Network is strongly supported by mainstream American philanthropic institutions.
Data compiled and analyzed by CAIR researchers demonstrates that despite the well-known racist and xenophobic attitudes of Islamophobic organizations, reputable philanthropic institutions have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into the activities of the Islamophobia Network. These include household names such as Fidelity and Schwab, as well as community-centered, faith-based charities such as the Jewish Communal Fund and the National Christian Charitable Foundation. Together, the expansive funding network revealed in this report demonstrates that the Islamophobia Network cannot be considered a marginal or passing phenomenon in American society. Rather, it is a prominent and shameful institutional feature of American philanthropy.
These foundations have donated across a wide range, from the miniscule amount of $20 to the staggering sum of $32 million. They are divided into three categories: 1) Donor Advised Funds, 2) Faith-Based Donor Advised Funds, and 3) Private Family Foundations.
While some funds and foundations are ideologically aligned with the interests of the Islamophobia Network, most mainstream foundations are more than likely being exploited or used by donors who seek to anonymize their contributions to anti-Muslim special interest groups. This report allows stakeholders to determine whether they are directly or indirectly connected to the Islamophobia Network. By mapping the flow of funding from charitable organizations to anti-Muslim advocacy groups, and their negative impact on public life, this report asks, “Should the American philanthropic community divest from the Islamophobia industry?”