The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released a groundbreaking report, called “Hijacked by Hate: American Philanthropy and the Islamophobia Network” listing the philanthropic foundations, many of them mainstream, that were used by anonymous special interest donors to funnel almost $125 million to anti-Muslim hate groups between 2014 and 2016.

“Anti-Muslim hate groups are exploiting charitable institutions to fund anti-Muslim propaganda,” said CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo. “It is important that mainstream charities understand the impact thesepartnerships have on marginalized communities and work to ensure they are not complicit in funding hate.”

The report’s authors noted that one outcome of the funding and promotion of anti-Muslim hate and conspiracy theories has been the measurable nationwide increase in often-fatal anti-Muslim hate violence, bullying of children and discrimination. The period covered by the report showed a marked increase in anti-Muslim hate violence and discrimination.

Building upon years of previous research by CAIR and others on the funding capacity of anti-Muslim special interest groups, “Hijacked by Hate” provides the most detailed information to date on the way charities and foundations are being used by anonymous donors to funnel money to hate groups, which CAIR says “lobby legislatures to pass anti-Muslim laws and policies, interfere in and falsify school curriculum, and promote prejudicial and biased media content.”

According to the report, “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 have reached at least $1.5 billion.”

The funders 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. They also include lesser known and more opaque private family foundations such as the Mirowski Family Foundation Inc., which has virtually no public imprint but nonetheless contributes millions of dollars to support anti-Muslim activity.

Anti-Muslim hate groups listed in the report include: The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), Gatestone Institute, Center for Security Policy, Middle East Forum, David Horowitz Freedom Center, Clarion Project, and the Investigative Project on Terrorism, among many others.

“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 shameful institutional feature of American philanthropy,” said CAIR National Research and Advocacy Manager Zainab Arain. “While various studies have pointed to aspects of Islamophobia funding, this report makes the connection between mainstream American philanthropy and the once-fringe Islamophobia Network. It does so in a way to make it easy to identify connections and empower decision makers to make informed choices about who they partner with in programming and from which financial pools they draw upon for support.”

Arain added: “Readers of this report will be as dismayed as its authors to learn that the same organizations that fund fundamental American institutions such as the Boy Scouts, American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army are also responsible for providing funding to anti-Muslim, Islamophobic groups.

“While it shouldn’t be expected that the multi-million-dollar Islamophobia industry will disappear overnight, readers can anticipate that major foundations, the wider public, and the philanthropic community will not sit quietly while anti-Muslim institutions abuse American values and traditions to promote their agendas,” said CAIR National Research and Advocacy Director Abbas Barzegar. “It is our hope that with sustained action, institutional collaboration, and dedicated will, a community of progressive and mainstream allies will emerge to push the Islamophobia Network back to the fringe of our society, where odious and incendiary speech belong.”

“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?’ We are confident that with everyone’s help, future reports will perhaps begin to chart the decline in the Islamophobia Network’s funding power, rather than its growth as has been the case until now,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

“Hijacked by Hate” also places President Trump at the center of an “Anti-Muslim Hydra Administration,”noting that that “there have been more than a dozen individuals in the Trump administration who have possessed direct links to anti-Muslim hate groups.”

According to the report, “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 have reached at least $1.5 billion.”

CAIR’s report includes recommendations for civil society organizations, philanthropic institutions and interfaith communities that include:

  • Undertaking educational initiatives to learn what constitutes Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.
  • Familiarizing staff and stakeholders with major actors and influencers in the Islamophobia Network and the major philanthropic organizations responsible for supporting it.
  • Conducting audit of funding sources, institutional partners, and programming relationships to ensure that organizations or institutions are not directly or indirectly connected to the Islamophobia Network.
  • Reviewing funding sources to determine whether those funding organizations and institutions are also supporting the Islamophobia Network.
  • Implementing policies and procedures to ensure that funds are not diverted to hate groups. Implementing policies and procedures to ensure that the programs and activities of grantees align with donor interests, stakeholder values, and the public good.
  • Designing and implement faith-based programs dedicated to marginalizing hate speech and anti-Muslim bigotry in local communities.

METHODOLOGY: Data on the Islamophobia Network’s financial information were acquired through a thorough review of thousands of pages of publicly-available tax filings, in addition to searchable databases, namely GuideStar and Foundation Directory Online.