Protect the Rights of Americans of all Faiths
January 25, 2017
Posted by: Madihha Ahussain, Staff Attorney, Muslim Advocates
Bear A Torch – Alongside the threats to limit immigration from majority-Muslim countries, there has been a not-coincidental increase in uncivil political discourse directed at Muslim and other minority students in schools around the country, including in the Bay Area where many schools have responded by declaring themselves safe zones. Because the inflammatory rhetoric continues to increase, this week’s torchbearer is Muslim Advocates. In its role serving as a resource and voice for the American Muslim community, Muslim Advocates hears weekly from concerned parents about their children being bullied in school because of their faith. In some instances, even teachers and school administrators are involved. ACT NOW to help Muslim Advocates address discrimination against school students.
Protect the Rights of Americans of all Faiths
by Madihha Ahussain, Staff Attorney, Muslim Advocates
Today, we stand taller and stronger than ever before with our fellow Americans who reject racism and bigotry. As we embark on a unique journey under the new administration, Muslim Advocates is working to protect the rights of Americans of all faiths. We are proud to stand together with our partners and allies in the Jewish, LGBT, African American and other communities. We are committed to using every legal and advocacy tool available to us in order to ensure that we can stay true to our country’s core values of freedom, equality and justice for all.
Our nation has been ravaged by a contentious election cycle where we heard disparaging and hateful rhetoric used to attack minority groups, including American Muslims. In the days immediately following the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center recorded almost 900 incidents. This was just weeks after data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicated that hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 spiked a stunning 67 percent from the year before. Now, with President Trump in the White House, this number is expected to continue rising.
With hate groups and individuals emboldened by the divisive rhetoric during the election season, a number of faith communities have felt its impact. In just the last two weeks, 44 Jewish Community Centers, some of which have preschools, received bomb threats. In addition, mosques have been vandalized—for example, just a few days ago half a dozen windows were smashed at an Islamic Center in Davis, California, where the perpetrator was caught on video also leaving strips of bacon on door handles. Muslim Advocates has also observed an increase in hate crimes, intimidation and bullying against minority groups.
As incidents like these continue to occur, Muslim Advocates believes it’s critical for individuals to understand how and where to report hate crimes. We encourage victims and family members of victims to visit our website for state resources on reporting hate crimes. In addition, Muslim Advocates has been tracking hate crimes against American Muslims and want to hear from you if you believe you have been a victim of a hate crime. Please write to us firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have also been deeply concerned about the impact hateful rhetoric is having on children at school. Late last year, we sent a letter to the highest school official in every state to remind them of their legal responsibility to provide students with a safe school environment, free from harassment based on faith. To spread the word on the local level, we invite parents to use the template letter from their state and send it to their children’s school or school district.
Muslim Advocates has been working around the clock to protect Americans of all faiths from bigotry and hate. We are working closely with our allies to support one another and build a powerful collective voice. Recently, we worked on a campaign with 36 other organizations to pressure technology companies to publically state that they would not help the new administration create a Muslim Registry. The successful campaign resulted in companies like Facebook, Google and IBM to make public statements that they would never help build a Muslim Registry.
We know that the challenges ahead will often require us to work harder to protect our civil rights. We will have to speak out more loudly against injustices. But together, with our allies from countless communities, we are prepared to stand up for what is right.
Madihha Ahussain serves as a staff attorney at Muslim Advocates and plays an essential role as a member of the legal team focusing on anti-Muslim hate issues.
Torchbearer: Muslim Advocates
This week’s torchbearer, Muslim Advocates, is the national legal advocacy and educational organization working on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. Through high impact lawsuits, policy advocacy, and community education, Muslim Advocates serves as a resource to empower communities and ensures that the American Muslim community is heard by the courts and leaders at the highest level of government.
What You Can Do
- Donate to Muslim Advocates
- Learn how to report a hate crime in your state
- Send a letter to local schools about bullying
- Review the “Click Here to End Hate” report
- Help HIAS by adding your name to today’s campaign: “Don't Let Donald Trump Slam the Door on Refugees.”
- Host a Beyond Differences #NoOneEatsAloneDay at your school on February 10.
- Bring in an ING speaker from its Islamic Speakers and/or Interfaith Speakers Bureaus to supplement diversity programming and counter prejudice.
- Support Pacifica Institute in its efforts for interfaith dialogue and intercultural understanding.
- Violence is also growing against Sikhs, Arabs and Hindus and others often mistaken to be Muslim. Help ADL combat hatred of the ‘other.’
- When you see something, say something. Use Human Rights Watch’s #CallItOut system to report incidents of hate in your own community.
- Engage in the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees (MFA) interfaith response to the Syrian refugee crisis.