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CAIR Backs Reps. Omar and Schakowsky’s Bill to Create a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Islamophobia 

Act Now: Urge Congress to Support the Combating International Islamophobia Act #StopIslamophobia 

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/21/21) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today joined 31 other national groups in welcoming the introduction of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Jan Schakowsky’s (D-IL) Combating International Islamophobia Act – legislation to establish a special envoy office at the U.S. State Department to monitor and combat international Islamophobia.   

SEE: Reps Omar, Schakowsky Introduce Combating Global Islamophobia Bill

HuffPost: Ilhan Omar Urges Creation Of Special Envoy Role To Combat Global Anti-Muslim Hate 

CAIR is also calling on all Americans to take action and urge their U.S. House Representative to co-sponsor and support the adoption of the landmark Combating International Islamophobia Act.  

Act Now: Urge Congress to Support the Combating International Islamophobia Act #StopIslamophobia 

Championed by Congresswomen Omar and Schakowsky, the Combating International Islamophobia Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Andre Carson (D-IN), Lou Correa (D-CA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Al Green (D-TX), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim McGovern (D-MA, Marie Newman (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Bobby Rush (D-IL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Nikema Williams (D-GA). 

“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 CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “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. 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.”  

“We are seeing a rise in Islamophobia in nearly every corner of the globe,” said Rep. Ilhan 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. Jan 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 endorsed by 30 national organizations including: 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, Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA), 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. 

ABOUT THE COMBATING INTERNATIONAL ISLAMOPBIA ACT  

The Combating International Islamophobia Act would compel the State Department to develop a more comprehensive approach to fighting the global increase of Islamophobia, increasing its capacity to monitor and confront state and non-state actors worldwide, ensuring a safer environment for American Muslims. The two primary aims of the Combatting International Islamophobia Act are:    

1) Establishing an Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia at the State Department headed by a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Islamophobia.    

2) Amending the Foreign Assistance Act and International Religious Freedom Act to require annual reporting on Islamophobia in each foreign country and the steps taken by that country to combat it through educational programing and public awareness initiatives. 

The United States currently monitors and combats religious persecution internationally. The Combatting International Islamophobia Act would extend this mission to Islamophobia. The act would also provide valuable information for understanding Islamophobia as a global phenomenon and give the U.S. a new tool to combat it.  

On July 21, Representatives Ilhan Omar, Jan Schakowsky, Judy Chu, Andre Carson, and Sara Jacobs (D-CA) joined CAIR for a press conference on Capitol Hill to publicly announce that 23 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken to create a special envoy position for combatting and monitoring Islamophobia as instances of anti-Muslim hate crimes continue to rise in the U.S. and worldwide.  

The press conference highlighted CAIR’s 2021 Mid-Year Snapshot Summary Report of Anti-Muslim Bias Incidents, which found over 500 complaints of anti-Muslim hate and bias between January and July 2021 and highlights 38 anti-Muslim bias incidents that include hate crimes, harassment, school bullying, discrimination, hate speech, and anti-mosque incidents.  

In January, the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations also sent a letter to the Biden Administration calling on the State Department to establish the special envoy position.  

In its 2021 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identified three Countries of Particular Concern primarily for their treatment of Muslims. Several additional countries listed by USCIRF were identified as having patterns of mistreatment and human rights violations against either their entire Muslim populations or particular sects of Muslims. This includes several Muslim-majority countries.  

State acts of persecution and violence against Muslims can be found in India and Burma – in addition to the United States recognizing China’s genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic and religious minority groups who live in the Uyghur region of China. Anti-Muslim rhetoric, bigotry and acts of violence also go together with the rise of political parties that outwardly attack the rights of Muslims, especially in France and other parts of Europe.    

Transnational white supremacist and Islamophobic hate group networks have also inspired their followers to commit acts of anti-Muslim violence and terrorism, including but not limited to the recent murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario over the summer and the 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand mosque shootings.    

CAIR believes that in a world where anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry spreads quickly on online platforms and repressive state policies, a global approach is necessary to combat it.    

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.               

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.              

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END    

CONTACT: CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, e-Mitchell@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com      

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