Thanks so much for your response!
I believe it is because they don’t have economic or political power. They are brown, however, so the fact that the term ‘Muslim’ with its negative connotations may hurt them is of no concern. Another way I look at this is to ask: if a significant portion of white people were Muslim, would there be more hesitation to casting it in negative terms ? I think so.
In other words, there is the highly important feature of power — that is, predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa which the US wants to dominate are vilified, in part, by casting ‘Muslim’ in negative terms. But there is also a certain degree of disregard for all brown peoples, if not a ‘double duty’ sort of effect which allows, for example, Indonesia to be a sort of ‘collateral damage’ (by virtue of being predominantly Muslim) at best, or even to encompass another set of brown peoples as inferior.
In the US, Muslims from SE Asia wear chadors and other traditional Muslim dress and report the same discrimination due to these ‘Muslim’ indicators as do Muslims from any other country, at least based on my admittedly anecdotal observation and conversation (with some.)