(BALTIMORE, MD, 2/16/18) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced that it has submitted testimony in support of HB0511 Public Institutions of Higher Education Hate-Bias Incident Prevention Act that was introduced in the Maryland state legislature.
The bill, sponsored by Maryland State Delegate Angela Angel, was introduced in response to the murder of an African-American Bowie State University student, Lt. Richard Collins III, at the University of Maryland College Park campus by a suspect with ties to neo-Nazi and white supremacist hate groups. Collins was fatally stabbed days before he was expected to graduate.
The bill requires all Maryland public universities and colleges to:
- Develop and implement cultural diversity and hate bias training for all incoming freshmen
- Establish an on-campus Hate/Bias Coordinator
- Create an electronic crime alert notification system to include notifications of hate/bias incidents
- Annually report all hate/bias related incidents and reports to the Maryland General Assembly
CAIR’s testimony reads in part:
“Racists and bigots have become emboldened on college campuses across the state, especially since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Hatred manifests in different forms. One year ago, CAIR began offering free self-defense workshops to Muslim women who wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, after we received four reports of visibly Muslim students on Maryland college campuses who had been physically and verbally assaulted. We believe that HB0511 will:
- help discourage on-campus hate/bias incidents targeting racial, religious & ethnic minorities through training and education
- improve the tracking and reporting of hate/bias incidents
- provide valuable data that can be used to help prevent such crimes, and determine the allocation of resources to support victims and their families”
“Every student, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity, has the right to feel safe and respected in their learning environment,” said CAIR’s Maryland representative Zainab Chaudry. “We thank House Appropriations Committee Chair McIntosh and committee members for the opportunity to deliver testimony on this important bill, and respectfully urge them to help create safer, and more inclusive and welcoming campus environments by providing a favorable report.”
The bill’s language was partly modeled on some steps that have already been taken by the University of Maryland College Park administration, with the goal of seeing these measures being implemented state-wide.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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