Representative Ihan Omar (D-MN) on March 23 hosted a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill to introduce a resolution combating Islamophobia across the country and around the world. Also lending their support for the amendment were Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL); Robert McCaw, Director of Government Affairs at The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR); Human Rights First Executive Vice President Kareem Shora and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).
The amendment draft, “Honoring the victims of the March 15, 2019, shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” specifically notes that it “mourns the loss of the worshipers killed at the mosques in Christchurch, recognizes and condemns the threat of White supremacist ideology, conspiracy transnational theories, and violence, deplores attacks on people of all faiths in their places of worship; affirms the rights of religious minorities in the United States and around the world to practice their religions in peace; and commits to ending gun violence.”
In her opening comments, Rep. Omar stated: “We gather here on the first day of Ramadan, a time where we step out of our daily routine and remind ourselves of the struggles that those less fortunate in society face every day. But this year is also a time of increased terror and attacks against our Muslim brothers and sisters across the country and the world.”
She noted that “…in the past year a Muslim family is Canada was attacked wiping out three generations,” and that four years ago an anti-Muslim attack in Christchurch, New Zealand resulted in over fifty worshipers being killed. This is “… just a part of the rise in white supremacist and right-wing violence globally.”
Rep. Omar cited the “great replacement” conspiracy theory along with anti-immigrant rhetoric which paints immigrants as an invasive non-white threat. In tur, that theory has resulted in other deranged individuals citing it in justifying killings in the U.S.
Omar went further by calling out other anti-Muslim atrocities being committed against the Uyghurs in China, against Muslims in India and the Rohinga in Burma as well as against immigrants in Europe. She further noted that, “The problem is coordinated and global.”
“This is why I’m proud to lead my colleagues in condemning the rise of Islamophobia and bigotry in all forms and affirming the rights of religious minorities in the United State and around the world.”
Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) was accompanied by two members from “March For Our Lives,” who are endorsing the amendment is a student-led group that supports gun control legislation in calling for an end to gun violence. The group was formed in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 in which 17 people were murdered and 17 injured in Parkland, Florida.
Speaking in support of the amendment, Rep. Frost said: “It’s an honor to be here in solidarity and in recognition of the rise of Islamophobia that is going around the country especially in my home state of Florida. It’s no surprise as to why this is happening. We see that there is a far-right extreme branch of our government that is continuing to fuel hate in this country. It is up to us as members of Congress and leaders of this country to not just be here in solidarity but also recommit ourselves every day to fight against Islamophobia from Florida to Minnesota to the ends of the earth.”
Robert McCaw from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) noted that “It’s with a heavy heart that CAIR welcomes the introduction of Congresswoman Omar’s U.S. House Resolution marking the fourth anniversary of the tragic massacre at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. That cowardly attack carried out by a white supremist anti-Muslim bigot claimed the lives of 51 innocent Muslim worshipers who were attending Friday prayers during Juma’ four years ago. May Allah grant them paradise for those that were killed and may he comfort their families.”
“Since that attack the United States has been subjected to additional white supremacist attacks that have targeted Jewish, African, Hispanic and Asian Americans,” he continued. “It is incredibly important that Congress leads the way in rejecting these hateful and dangerous ideologies and CAIR calls on both sides of the aisle to co-sponsor and adopt this very important resolution.”
Also speaking in support of the amendment was Human Rights First Executive Vice President Kareem Shora who said “We are here today calling on all members of this U.S. Congress to support and co-sponsor this resolution and to loudly speak up and act against the mainstreaming of anti-democratic far-right white supremacist extremism. When America’s policies and actions no longer match its values, when hate and extremism are normalized and when our democratic processes are threatened our global legitimacy is undermined along with our ability to protect the most vulnerable worldwide. This movement is no longer a fringe element of our society.”
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) said she was honored “to stand with Congresswoman Omar and many colleagues in doing this resolution. We all know that we have so much more work to do to combat racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and hateful policies that fuel them. This is how we reject violent extremism by recognizing it and honoring those who did not live and those who continue to be impacted by it.”
“I am proud that our country, with the leadership of Congresswoman Omar, with her resolution, can honor them [the victims of Christchurch] in mourning the loss of many that were impacted.”
In closing, it should also be noted that this year marks the first annual International Day to Combat Islamophobia, an international observance designated by the United Nations that is taking place in 140 countries around the world.
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Photo: Phil Pasquini
(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.