Reps Omar, Schakowsky Introduce Combating Global Islamophobia Bill
WASHINGTON—Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the Combating International Islamophobia Act, legislation to address the rise in incidents of Islamophobia worldwide. The bill requires the State Department to create a Special Envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia, and include state-sponsored Islamophobic violence and impunity in the Department’s annual human rights reports. The creation of the Special Envoy will help policymakers better understand the interconnected, global problem of anti-Muslim bigotry. It will also establish a comprehensive strategy for establishing U.S. leadership in combatting Islamophobia worldwide.
This year, the United States has seen over 500 documented complaints of anti-Muslim hate and bias. In a recent study conducted by CAIR, found 69% of respondents personally experienced anti-Muslim bigotry or discrimination since 9/11. In a separate study conducted by the Othering and Belonging Institute, found 67% of Muslims personally experienced Islamophobia in their lifetimes. In March, the United Nations Human Rights Council cited discrimination and hatred towards Muslims has risen to “epidemic proportions.”
There has been a staggering rise in incidents of violent Islamophobia incidents worldwide. Whether it is the atrocities being committed against the Uyghurs in China and the Rohingya in Burma, the crackdowns on Muslim populations in India and Sri Lanka, the scapegoating of Muslim refugees and other Muslims in Hungary and Poland, the acts of white supremacist violence targeting Muslims in New Zealand and Canada, or the targeting of minority Muslim communities in Muslim-majority countries like Pakistan, Bahrain, and Iran—the problem of Islamophobia is global in scope.
“We are seeing a rise in Islamophobia in nearly every corner of the globe,” said Rep. Omar. “In my home state of Minnesota, vandals spray-painted hate messages and a Nazi swastika on and near the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center. These types of incidents are all too common for Muslims in the United States and beyond. As part of our commitment to international religious freedom and human rights, we must recognize Islamophobia and do all we can to eradicate it. That’s why I’m proud to partner with Rep. Jan Schakowsky to create a special envoy to put an end to this bigotry.”
“For over a decade we have seen increasing incidents of violent Islamophobia both in the U.S. and worldwide – from the genocide of the Rohingya in Burma, and Uyghurs in China, to the attacks on Muslim refugees in Canada and New Zealand,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “It is past time for the U.S. to establish a comprehensive plan for combating this hatred worldwide. I am proud to join my friend and colleague, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, in introducing the Combating International Islamophobia Act. This critical legislation will create a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Islamophobia to ensure the U.S. dedicates the resources necessary to safeguard human rights and religious and cultural freedom around the world.”
The Combating International Islamophobia Act is cosponsored by Reps Bass, Bowman, Carson, Correa, Dean, Dingell, Eshoo, García (IL), Green (TX), Grijalva, Jacobs (CA), Jackson Lee, H. Johnson (GA), Jones, Kim (NJ), Lowenthal, C. Maloney, McGovern, Newman, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, Pascrell, Payne, Phillips, Pocan, Pressley, Rush, Sires, Tlaib, Watson Coleman, and Williams.
“The rise of Islamophobic incidents in our nation and across the world is atrocious and concerning,” said Rep. Maloney. “New York City is one of the most diverse and welcoming cities in the world. And like New Yorkers of all faiths, our Muslim community contributes to the unique and rich cultural diversity for which New York City is universally known. Like every New Yorker, they deserve to live and work free from discrimination and harassment. It’s up to all of us to stop and stand up to Islamophobia wherever and whenever we see it. I’m proud to cosponsor the Combatting International Islamophobia Act, which will allow my colleagues and I to better understand the global problem of anti-Muslim bigotry – and work towards strategies to end it.”
“Tragically, we continue to see the growing threat of Islamophobia both in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District and around the world. As a global leader, the United States has a fundamental and moral obligation to take a stand against this rising danger and protect the religious freedoms, human rights and safety of all Muslims,” said Rep. Newman. “I’m proud to join Reps. Omar and Schakowsky in co-sponsoring the Combatting Global Islamophobia Act so that America can further live up to our values by leading the rest of the world in combatting bigotry, discrimination and hate against Muslims both domestically and across the globe.”
“The rise in islamophobia around the world threatens our Muslim neighbors here in the United States,” said Rep. Watson Coleman. “My own state of New Jersey has seen school children chasing and harassing Muslim students, a teacher pulling a hijab from the head of a student, and a school showing Islamophobic dramatic films to ‘teach’ students about Islam. Fighting Islamophobia abroad will help us eliminate it here at home. I’m grateful to my colleagues Reps. Omar and Schakowsky for bringing this bill forward.”
The Combating International Islamophobia Act is endorsed by American Muslim Empowerment Network (AMEN), American Muslims for Palestine, Americans for Peace Now, Arizona Muslim Alliance, Center for Victims of Torture, Church World Service, Common Defense, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), Human Rights First, ICNA Council for Social Justice (ICNA CSJ), IfNotNow, International Islamophobia Studies Research Association, Islamophobia Studies Center, Islamophobia Studies Journal, Jetpac Resource Center, Jewish Voice for Peace Action, Libyan American Alliance, MPower Change, Muslim American Society, Muslim Public Affairs Council, Oxfam America, Poligon Education Fund, Revolutionary Love Project, Secure Justice, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), Together We Serve, U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO), United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, and Veterans For Peace.
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) welcomes the introduction of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky’s Combating International Islamophobia Act – legislation to establish a special envoy office at the U.S. State Department to monitor and combat international Islamophobia,” said Nihad Awad, National Executive Director, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “While global Islamophobia, anti-Muslim state policies and hate incidents have increased for the past two decades, the American Muslim community has consistently called for the creation of a special envoy position to monitor and combat this rising tide of hate. Our nation needs better tools to combat Islamophobic state policies and violence in countries like China, India, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, the European Union, and elsewhere. Global Islamophobia is not only a threat to the safety and security of Muslims here and abroad, it is also a threat to international religious freedom and democratic principles. CAIR is calling on congressional leadership and the Biden-Harris administration to support the Combating International Islamophobia Act and make this special envoy position a reality.”
“Just as it is necessary to have a special envoy to combat antisemitism, it is vitally important that the United States establish a Special Envoy to combat the scourge of Islamophobia,” said Hadar Susskind, Americans for Peace Now’s President and CEO. “We stand in solidarity with Muslim victims of hatred and bigotry and we urge Congress to pass this important bill.”
Full text of the legislation is available here.