Islam

New Year's Resolution For Cable News: Invite Muslims To Talk About Life In Trump's America

With hate crimes against Muslims on the rise and an administration that frequently makes anti-Muslim statements on its way in, cable news shows must work harder to include Muslim experts, advocates, and community leaders in order to provide a good reflection of the diversity and authenticity of American Muslim experiences.

According to FBI statistics, anti-Muslim hate crimes have been on the rise for several years, shooting up 67 percent between 2014 and 2015 “from 154 in 2014 to 257 in 2015,” their highest since the year of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Though FBI hate crime statistics for 2016 won’t be released until the end of 2017, according to a joint study by CAIR and ThinkProgress, there have been 111 reported anti-Muslim incidents in America since the November 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris, 53 of them in the month of December 2015 alone.

Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, which tracked the connection between political rhetoric and anti-Muslim attacks during the the presidential campaign season, found that there have been approximately 180 reported incidents of anti-Muslim violence in the one year period after the first candidate announced his bid for the White House in March 2015. And since Trump’s election less than two months ago, there have been at least 150 reported hate incidents, 29 of which were inspired by anti-Muslim sentiment, according to a ThinkProgress analysis that “focuses on moments of more targeted harassment and hatred.”

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A Non-Muslim Guide to Standing up to Islamophobia

You have most likely heard some type of comments regarding Muslims and Islam. Whether you know a Muslim or not, felt compelled to respond, but simply did not know what to say, you are not alone. I applaud you for taking the opportunity to find out how you can help fight Islamophobia and encourage peace in the world. This guide will help you to be an ally to the Islamic community and the basic principles can apply to the defense of all groups and help to eradicate stereotypes and discrimination.

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Islamophobic graffiti scrawled in subway station near Kensington

Hate has gone underground.

A vandal scrawled “F--- Allah” on a bench inside the Fort Hamilton Parkway F and G station on the border between Windsor Terrace and Kensington sometime before Monday, shocking local leaders who say it is the first Islamophobic graffiti they’d seen in the area in more than a year and that they blame Donald Trump’s victory for emboldening bigots to once again blight the area with their hate.

“We didn’t have any problems and now with the election a lot of people are taking advantage,” said Mamnunul Haq, a leader in the area’s large Bangladeshi Muslim community and member of Community Board 12. “It was gone for a while, but for this to happen today is really shocking.”

Louts attacked Kensington with both anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic graffiti for several years beginning in 2013, according to Haq — especially along Ocean Parkway, where mailboxes and storefronts could frequently be found debased with swastikas and messages defaming Allah.

But local politicians and officers of the 66th Precinct made a concerted effort to stamp out the rash of racist vandalism, and Haq said he hadn’t heard of any offensive scribbles since 2015 — until Monday.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority was not aware of the vandalism until contacted by the paper, and the agency dispatched a cleanup crew in response, according to an agency spokesman.

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington) says he has contacted police to investigate the subway vandalism and vowed to hold a community gathering to discuss the issue.

It is just the latest in a series of hate-filled outbursts in Brooklyn since the election of Trump — who during his campaign said that he would ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. and make all practitioners of Islam register with a national database — he noted.

“Unfortunat­ely, we’ve seen a welling up of hatred and Islamophobia in the weeks since the Trump election,” he said. “What you have to do is get it very quickly investigated, painted over, and see that the community comes out together against hate in support of our Muslim neighbors.”

Amongst other incidents, someone drew swastikas and “Go Trump!” in a Brooklyn Heights playground, another wrote “Trump!” on the door of the Muslim prayer room at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering Downtown, and a Trump supporter punched a woman in the face after a political argument in a Boerum Hill bistro.

A spokesman at the NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information’s office said it did not have a report on the incident as of Monday afternoon.

Muslim group sent out post-election polling robocalls asking religious affiliation, prompting fears of Muslim surveillance

Robocalls administered by a Muslim group asking Muslim-Americans about their religious affiliation caused alarm among recipients fearful of a surveillance program under a Trump administration.

The ominous calls went out earlier this week and were administered by Emerge USA, a nonprofit advocacy group for Muslims, South Asian and Arab Americans who outsourced a company to conduct post-election polling, one of the call’s recipients told the Daily News after confirming it with his mosque leader.

Emerge USA reportedly did not give public notice about the robocalls and the calls did not identify which group administered them.

“If they had said, ‘Hey, this is where it’s coming [from],’ it would have saved us being concerned about it,” a 27-year-old Muslim-American from the Philadelphia area who didn’t want to be identified by name told the Daily News.

“There’s just a lot of talk about surveillance of Muslims within workplaces and surveillance of mosques,” he said, after saying Tuesday that he personally knew 5 or 6 fellow Muslim-Americans in the Philadelphia area who received the calls. Donald Trump has proposed the surveillance of Muslim-Americans as a way of combating homegrown terrorism, a policy civil liberties advocates blasted as a violation of their constitutional rights.

Concerned Muslim-Americans posted to social media about the bizarre calls, which asked them to press “yes” if they were Muslim and “no” if they were not. Some recipients said the call would abruptly hang up no matter their response to the question.

CAIR has received reports of American Muslims receiving robocalls asking if they "identify" as Muslim. No other questions are asked.

  (VIA FACEBOOK)

Emerge USA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The advocacy group has chapters in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Texas but it’s unclear whether the calls were sent out in all of these locations.

The calls were sent out amid numerous reports of anti-Muslim hate crimes following Election Day.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s tracking, more than 700 hate crimes have been reported since Trump’s stunning election win, roughly 50 of which have been anti-Muslim.

“I think given that environment, it made us worry,” the call recipient said.

We must show solidarity with Muslim-Americans in face of Trump administration fear-mongering

I am a Jew. But starting today, in the eyes of the Trump Administration, I want to be seen as a Muslim.

There are too many people inside the Trump transition team talking about registering Muslims or even interning them in camps — so starting today, I am wearing a yellow Islamic crescent and star on my jacket, and urging all Americans to do the same, until this racist nonsense is banished from our public discourse.

There have been too many attacks on Muslims already, too many immigrant children coming home from school crying because a bully told them they'll be deported after Jan. 20, too many Trump supporters not seeing that there’s a vast chasm between Islam and terrorism committed in the name of a perverted version of Islam.

As a Jew, I am particularly sensitive to efforts by government to divide us along ethnic or racial lines. The Germans did that in the 1930s with disastrous results. We did it to Japanese-Americans during World War II, which remains a stain on our national conscience. And the Trump campaign certainly did it during the election season with heightened rhetoric.

Indeed, Trump's military adviser Gen. Michael Flynn tweeted earlier this year that "fear of Muslims is RATIONAL." (Flynn has been appointed to the cabinet, but it's unclear if that rhetoric got him the job.)

Of course, when the Nazis infamously made Jews wear yellow stars in German-occupied territories, thousands of righteous Gentiles stood up to Hitler by protecting Jews. There's a legend that King Christian of Denmark wore a yellow star in solidarity with Jews. OK, that story isn't true, but it doesn't mean we can't be inspired by it.

In that spirit, it is time for all of us to stand up to those who would oppress Muslim-Americans. That's why on Friday morning, I went to a craft store near my Brooklyn home, bought some yellow felt, and crafted an Islamic crescent and star, modeled after the "Jude" stars of the Nazi era. It's not perfect, but it makes the Gandhian point, "I am a Muslim, and a Hindu, and a Christian, and a Jew — and so are all of you."

It's unclear whether President Trump will follow through on campaign trail chatter about requiring Muslims to register with the government. But this week, one of his advisers told Reuters about an internal debate within the Trump transition team about a proposal for a national registry of immigrants and visitors from Muslim countries. A day later, a key Trump surrogate spoke glowingly of internment camps.

“We did it during World War II with the Japanese,” said Carl Higbie, who, until this week, was the spokesman for the pro-Trump Great America PAC.

He didn't back down from the legality of the idea when challenged by host Megyn Kelly.

“I’m not proposing that at all,” Higbie said. “But I’m just saying there is precedent for it.”

There's also precedent for killing millions of Native Americans and dumping PCBs into the Hudson River, but that doesn't mean anyone should be talking so calmly about bringing either back.

I am not prejudging President-elect Trump. He may disavow the overheated language that is designed to divide us and make us look upon our Muslim neighbors in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn or Dearborn, Mich. with suspicion.

But starting today, if Americans do indeed look askance at their Muslim countrymen and women, they can start looking askance at me, too.

Sure, I know what the great Arlo Guthrie once sang in “Alice’s Restaurant” that "If one person does (something) ... they may think he's really sick." But in the same epic song, he went on to say, that if 50 people do something, "they may think it's a movement."

And that's what this is. You could merely sign the #RegisterMeFirst petition on Moveon.org. Or you can do like I did: get to a craft store (not Hobby Lobby, though!) and make yourself a yellow crescent. Maybe we can end this Trumpian madness before someone in the U.S. government starts issuing real ones.