Americans and their Leaders need to consider & implement a set of concrete recommendations for the U.S. Government to combat anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crime at home

The following article stems from HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST’s reporting on the hearings yesterday from Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.–KAS

“Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre is calling on the committee to consider a set of concrete recommendations for the U.S. Government to combat anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crime at home while it exerts leadership abroad to reverse discrimination and promote freedom of religion. LeGendre warned that failure to protect the rights of Muslim Americans ultimately undermines America’s foreign policy.”

“A founding value for the U.S., the promotion of civil rights and religious freedom, is a priority issue in America’s foreign policy. Still, our success abroad will depend on an unfaltering, uncompromising protection of the individual civil and human rights in our own society,” wrote LeGendre in his statement submitted for the record. “Civil rights abuses against American Muslims — or any other group singled out on account of their religion, race or ethnicity — threaten to compromise this fundamental stance, undermine core American values, and weaken the U.S.’s reputation among foreign foes and friends alike.”

LeGendre’s statement contained a series of hate crime examples derived from incidents that have been reported in the United States, including a New York City cab driver who was stabbed multiple times by an intoxicated passenger who allegedly asked if the driver was Muslim and a 20-year-old woman who was assaulted in her mosque’s parking lot as the perpetrator shouted ANTI-Muslim slurs at her. In addition, his statement detailed the cases of a number of mosques and other places of worship that were vandalized or burned down amidst an atmosphere of heightened tension following divisive debates over construction of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in New York City.

To respond to these incidences, LeGendre outlined a series of recommendations for U.S. government officials and political leaders, including:

1. Respond to Hate Crime in the United States

* Senior political leaders and law enforcement officials at all levels of government should publicly condemn violent hate crimes when they occur and ensure a vigorous law enforcement and criminal justice response.
* The Department of Justice should take steps to increase, through training and technical assistance programs, hate crime reporting by local jurisdictions, targeting agencies that have not participated, have underreported, or have reported “zero” hate crimes in the past.
* The Department of Justice and other relevant bodies should enhance outreach to Muslim communities and civil society groups to reduce fear and assist victims, advance police-community relations, and encourage improved reporting of hate crimes to the police.

2. Respond to Intolerant Discourse in the United States

Political leaders, government and other officials serving in public office should:

* Pledge to refrain from using rhetoric that incites violence or promotes acts that curtail the enjoyment of the rights of others.
* Speak out publicly and consistently to condemn such speech when it occurs; build political consensus—reaching out across political party lines—to encourage speaking out.
* Use every opportunity to affirm common bonds of humanity and to guarantee equal protection under the law without discrimination for all individuals—citizens and noncitizens—in their jurisdiction. Leaders should take advantage of their positions to promote interreligious and intercultural understanding as well as policies and practices of nondiscrimination.

3. Lead Global Efforts to Combat Hate Crime

The United State should:

* Maintain strong and inclusive State Department monitoring and public reporting on racist, xenophobic and other forms of bias-motivated violence in the annual country reports on human rights practices—including by consulting with civil society groups as well as providing appropriate training for human rights officers and other relevant mission staff abroad.
* Raise violent hate crime issues with representatives of foreign governments and encouraging, where appropriate, legal and other policy responses, including those contained in Human Rights First’s ten-point plan for combating violent hate crime.
* Offer appropriate technical assistance, sharing of best practices, and other forms of cooperation, including training of police and prosecutors in investigating, recording, reporting and prosecuting violent hate crimes as well as translation of Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) materials on hate crimes.
* Support action by civil society, including by supporting efforts to build the capacity of civil society groups and other actors to combat hate crime.
* Organize International Visitors Programs on combating bias-motivated violence for representatives of law enforcement, victim communities, human rights groups, and legal advocates.
* Encourage efforts of intergovernmental organizations like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to strengthen their engagement with member states on combating violent hate crime.

In addition to these recommendations, Human Rights First has also issued a Ten-Point Plan for Combating Hate Crimes around the globe. To speak LeGendre about these recommendations, please contact Brenda Bowser Soder at or 202-370-3323.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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3 Responses to Americans and their Leaders need to consider & implement a set of concrete recommendations for the U.S. Government to combat anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crime at home

  1. eslkevin says:

    Raising Cain Against

    Once relegated to the right-wing fringe, Islamophobia has exploded onto the political scene as anti-Muslim pundits and activists gain traction in the conservative mainstream. Lawmakers and activists are now targeting anything affiliated with Muslims — be it a charity, a teacher, or a mosque. GOP politicians like former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich are fear-mongering over perceived dangers within the American Muslim community to pander to the conservative extremes. But this weekend at the Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain introduced an unprecedented level of bigotry into the GOP platform by declaring he would never appoint a Muslim to his administration. His anti-Muslim views sparked considerable outrage, but Cain remains unphased. ” I does not care, I feel the way I feel, ” he rationalized. Regardless of how he may feel, his anti-Muslim sentiment does not attract public support. Americans still support the religious freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and believe they should be applied to all, including Muslims. As President George Washington noted in 1790, the United States “gives to bigotry no sanction , to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

    THE MUSLIM TOUCH: Right-wing activists have spouted their anti-Muslim bigotry in a host of venues, including state bills that tackle the phantom menace of Sharia law or public hearings on ” Radicalization in the American Muslim Community .” Last month, the local chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America held a fundraiser in Orange County, CA to raise money for a women’s shelter and for homeless services in Southern California. Hundreds of jeering protesters harassed the families as they entered the building, screaming ” Go back home! ” and “You beat up your wife too? Are you a molester?” Rather than denouncing the blatant hatred, three GOP legislators attended the rally to offer their support. GOP councilwoman Deborah Pauly called the fundraiser “pure, unadulterated evil,” adding, “I know quite a few Marines who will be willing to help these terrorists to an early meeting in Paradise.” Last week, the Department of Justice filed a civil rights suit on behalf of a Muslim math teacher who was denied a request to take three weeks off for pilgrimage. A former DOJ official in the Bush administration called the move “a political lawsuit to placate Muslims” — sparking right-wing activists like Pamela Geller to attack a Muslim teacher and the DOJ “Islamic supremacists seeking to impose Islam on the public square.” But mosques have ignited the greatest backlash across the country. While Park 51 in New York City has grabbed the most headlines, the planned mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has spawned the most vitriolic campaign — resulting in slander, harrassment, and vandalism . This weekend, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien highlighted a nine-day hearing in Murfreesboro where an anti-Islamic lawyer, Joe Branden, mounted an increasingly popular defense that ” Islam is not a religion .” “Do you believe Allah and God is the same?” he asked, adding “Why would we extend to any religion the right to cancel out the Constitution for which we’re founded upon?” Of the 23 witnesses he called to testify, not one of them was from the Murfreesboro Muslim community.

    CAIN-STREAMING HATE: Rather than standing up to this un-American behavior, many GOP politicians are exploiting it for political gain. Weighing in on the Islamic Center in New York City, Gingrich parroted the right-wing fringe in declaring the Muslims behind the center are “radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists.” Speaking at the Conservative Principles Conference in Iowa this weekend, Gingrich called the DOJ defense of the Muslim teacher “an absurdity .” “It’s part of this desperation of our secular elites to do everything they can to prove they are not anti-Muslim,” he said. Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, recently told Christianity Today that he resents Muslims for “trying to convert the rest of us” because, “based upon the little knowledge I have,” Muslims “have an objective to convert all infidels or kill them. ” Cain then doubled down on his bigotry at the conservative conference this weekend, telling ThinkProgress’s Scott Keyes that he “would not” appoint a Muslim to his cabinet or as a federal judge because there is a “creeping” attempt “to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government.” Though his campaign later walked back his comments, Cain told Fox News’s Neil Cavuto yesterday that “many of the Muslims are not totally dedicated to this country” but that if a Muslim pledged to follow the law, he’d consider hiring one. Responding to Cain’s repeated Muslim-bashing as a candidate, Council of American Islamic Relations’ Ibrahim Hooper said, “Even post 9/11 you didn’t have this level of mainstreaming of anti-Muslim hate as you have now.” Peter Wehner, deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, called Cain’s comments ” an ugly and undiluted form of bigotry .” “For public figures to stoke the embers of Muslim bigotry” by claiming “every serious Muslim is a recruit for sedition — is a moral offense,” he said. “And be forewarned: it won’t stay confined. Bigotry rarely does.”

    THE PRO-TOLERANCE FORCES: Despite the concerted effort of conservative lawmakers and pundits to market Islamophobia to the public, they are out of touch with the American people. While anti-Islam activists and GOP officials continue to cultivate an anti-Islam campaign, 66 percent of Tennesseans said “they either supported or did not object to the construction of a new Islamic center in Murfreesboro.” 67 percent said ” Muslims deserve the same rights as any Americans ” and believed that “it is wrong to profile people as potential terrorists solely on the basis of their Muslim beliefs. The tolerance of Tennesseans reflects the general attitude of the American public. A recent poll found 69 percent of Americans ” would not oppose having a mosque near where they live or work.” Despite heavy-handed fear-mongering about Muslims, only 26 percent said they have an unfavorable view of Muslims. More in tune with the American sentiment, Democratic lawmakers are pushing back on right-wing mainstreaming of Islamophobia. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) announced Friday that he is seeking “a federal investigation into allegations that border control agents are unfairly targeting Muslim Americans traveling between the United States and Canada.” Today, Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) will hold a hearing on protecting civil rights of Muslim Americans — “the first of its kind for Congress” and a postive counterweight to King’s anti-Muslim hearings. Citing the recent “Koran burnings and restirctions on mosque construction,” Durbin said “It is important for our generation to renew our founding charter’s commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.”

  2. eslkevin says:

    Senators decry anti-Muslim violence
    By Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY

    WASHINGTON — Republican and Democratic senators at a hearing on anti-Muslim discrimination Tuesday agreed on one point: Even one case of bullying, violence or workplace harassment goes beyond what Americans should accept.

    By Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

    Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois questions a witness at a hearing Tuesday on anti-Muslim discrimination.

    By Saul Loeb

    Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois questions a witness at a hearing Tuesday on anti-Muslim discrimination.

    “Those who use this type of rhetoric, who burn Qurans and who engage in other forms of bigotry and discrimination may be few in number, but their bigoted conduct and remarks violate the spirit of our Bill of Rights,” said Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

    While subcommittee Democrats said special attention should be paid to hate crimes committed against Muslims in the USA, Republicans argued that Muslim Americans have not done enough to fight radicalism in their own communities.

    By Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images

    Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez decries violence against members of the Muslim community.

    “Get in this fight,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “You’re going to have to help your country. You’re probably uniquely qualified, compared to anyone else, to understand what’s going on and fight back.”

    The hearing comes two weeks after Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., conducted a controversial House hearing looking into how extremist groups lure American Muslims to become violent. A number of Muslim Americans felt their community was singled out for the terrorist acts of a few.

    By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., says Anti-Muslim bigotry violates the American spirit.

    There have been 800 incidents of alleged violence, threats, vandalism and arson against people who were perceived to be Muslim since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to the U.S. Justice Department. In addition, 14% of religious discrimination cases are against Muslim institutions, though Muslims make up 1% of the population, Justice Department figures show. Durbin called the hearing to determine whether the Justice Department has the resources it needs to address the cases.

    Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez said the Justice Department increased community outreach, staffing and local officer training in 2010. Even so, there has been a “disturbing trend of violence against members of these communities.”

    Last summer, a couple attacked a South Asian businessman in Lake Tahoe because of his race, breaking several bones in his face; and last month, a man set fire to a playground outside a mosque in Arlington, Texas, Perez said. “The most frequent complaint is bullying in schools,” he said.

    Farhana Khera, president of Muslim Advocates, said that last summer, a New York taxi driver was stabbed after a passenger asked whether he was a Muslim. In Staten Island, a high school boy was punched in the groin, called a terrorist, spat upon and beaten so badly he suffered short-term memory loss.

    “Parents worry, ‘Will my child be next?’ ” Khera said.

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