Trump

MUSLIM & CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CONDEMN TRUMP’S CALL FOR MORE ISLAMOPHOBIC POLICIES IN WAKE OF NYC TRAGEDY

San Francisco - In the wake of the attack on the people of New York City this week, President Trump released a variety of xenophobic proposals aimed at hurting immigrant and Muslim communities. Threatening to “end chain migration,” terminating the long-standing diversity lottery program, abandoning due process and civil liberties, the President is attempting to exploit Tuesday’s attacks to advance an aggressively anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant agenda long championed by his administration.

In response, Christina Sinha from Asian Americans Advancing JusticeAlbert Fox Cahn from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Avideh Moussavian from the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) released the following statements:

Christina Sinha, Staff Attorney at Asian Americans Advancing Justice:

“We condemn the recent attack in New York City and offer our deepest condolences to the victims and families impacted by this horrible act of hate. However, we cannot allow President Trump to use this terrible tragedy as an excuse to further scapegoat Muslims and intensify his xenophobic, anti-Muslim policy agenda.”

Albert Fox Cahn, CAIR Representative:

“CAIR condemns the horrific and cowardly attack in Manhattan and offers sincere condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured. Rather than trying to bring our country together, this President is seeking to rip apart our constitution, attacking our fundamental rights. We’ve never sent suspects arrested on U.S. soil to Guantanamo Bay, not even in the darkest days after 9/11.”

Avideh Moussavian, Senior Policy Attorney at the National Immigration Law Center:

“Strong leaders recognize that moments of tragedy call for unity, not sowing harmful divisions. After this week’s tragic events in New York, President Trump once again failed to show the leadership we need in these moments and instead wants to exploit this devastating attack to promote his laundry list of anti-Muslim policies to turn our nation into a country where the American dream is sold to the highest bidder. These proposals would betray our fundamental values of fairness and due process and threaten to turn our immigration laws into a race and class-based system. Our lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should remember those lessons and reject Trump’s call to divide and discriminate.”

###

Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation's members are: Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice - AAJC (Washington, D.C.), Advancing Justice - Los Angeles, Advancing Justice - Atlanta, and Advancing Justice - Chicago.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

The National Immigration Law Center is exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights and opportunities of low-income immigrants and their families. Our mission is grounded in the belief that every American—and aspiring American—should have the opportunity to fulfill their full potential regardless of where they were born or how much money they have. Using our deep expertise in a wide range of issues that affect low-income immigrants’ lives, we work with communities in courtrooms and legislatures to help advance policies that create a more just and equitable society for everyone.

The #NoMuslimBanEver campaign is organized by a coalition of national and local civil rights and Muslim advocacy groups who are leading efforts around the country to fight against President Trump’s latest unconstitutional Muslim Ban, as well as other discriminatory immigration policies that criminalize and negatively impact American Muslim communities and immigrants across the country.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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Our Latest Guidance on Muslim Ban 2.0

Dear community members and friends,

We've received President Trump's latest Executive Order targeting Muslims and refugees. We are appalled at this renewed attempt to assault our American values, targeting individuals based on race, religion, and national origin.

Although this order is unsurprising, a more complete analysis will take time. We are offering some preliminary guidance on who this executive order affects. We will send out more details as they become clear.
 

What you need to know: 

  • This Order DOES NOT affect:
    • U.S. Citizens;
    •  Lawful permanent residents (green card holders); 
    • Individuals with currently valid visas regardless of whether they are in the country or not;
    • Dual nationals traveling with any passport other than one from the six countries listed below; and 
    • Refugees and those granted asylum on or before the date of this Order. Also excluded are those granted protection under the Convention Against Torture.

  

  • This Order DOES affect: People applying for new or renewed immigration status within the next 90 days from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. 
    • Iraq has been removed from this list
  • The refugee program is being halted immediately, for 120 days. This will mean that anyone, anywhere in the process, will not move forward. 
  • Expanding the Restricted Entry List: DHS will perform a "country-by-country" review in which the list of countries may be changed. 

What you should do to protect yourself:

  • Non-citizens, even green card holders (lawful permanent residents) from one of the six countries named above, should consult with an attorney before traveling in or out of the country.
  • Please keep looking for updates in the coming days to assess your travel options. If you are facing an emergency at the airport or border, call us at: (646) 665-7599.
  • Regardless  of your citizenship, do not permit law enforcement to enter your home without a warrant. Even if they have a warrant, you should not speak to them without consulting with an attorney.

What you can do to push back against this:

  • Call your members of Congress and the U.S. Senate at (202) 224-3121 to ask them to speak out against anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry and oppose these Executive Orders
  • Join us for upcoming civic engagement opportunities, which will be announced in the coming days.



 

Muslims are the least popular religious group in the U.S. They’re disliked even more than atheists.

Last Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released the results of a new survey showing that American attitudes toward Muslims had improved in the past few years. While respondents to a 2014 survey gave Muslims an average rating of 40 on a 100-point “feeling thermometer” — a scale measuring favorability toward different groups — that number had climbed to 48 by last month. Headlines noted the shift, which many observers found surprising given recent debates about terrorism and President Trump’s order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations.

Read More:

Tweet-a-thon supporting The Council on American-Islamic Relations CAIR-NY

Tired of Trump's tweeting?  Now you can put your money where his mouth is.

President Trump is determined to continue his unprofessional tweeting, so let's make sure some good comes out of this childish behavior.  Pledge an amount you will give to the Council on American-Islamic Relations NY (CAIR-NY) for each tweet posted by the @realdonaldtrump Twitter account between 2/11/17 and 3/15/17.  It won't stop his tweets, but every time you see his latest tantrum, you’ll know you’re doing your part to fight back.

When Trump tweets, CAIR wins.

Donate Here: https://go.rallyup.com/trump-tweets-cair-wins/Updates

 

How 9/11 Prepared Muslims for Trump

In the days and weeks after 9/11, Debbie Almontaser was escorted to work by a neighbor, as were many Muslim-Americans who feared for their safety.

In those early days, some Muslim women feared wearing the hijab when they went outside. A Sikh man was killed in Mesa, Arizona, days after 9/11 by a man who thought he was Muslim. Others felt they were constantly suspect, viewed with suspicion by friends and neighbors they had known for years.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/12/how-9-11-prepared-muslims-for-trump.html

 

 

NYC, Brooklyn Officials Defy Trump's Attack on Illegal Immigration

Many New York City officials and Brooklyn’s community leaders reacted with dismay and defiance to President Donald Trump’s attack on illegal immigrants via two executive orders on Wednesday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Twitter, “We will not deport law-abiding New Yorkers. We are not going to tear families apart. We are not going to leave children without their parents.”

http://www.brooklyneagle.com/articles/2017/1/25/nyc-brooklyn-officials-defy-trumps-attack-illegal-immigration

 

CAIR-NY Welcomes Arrest in Islamophobic, Pro-Trump Attack at JFK Airport

For Immediate Release

(NEW YORK, NY, 1/27/17) – The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), a leading New York advocacy group for Muslim civil rights, today welcomed an arrest in the apparent Islamophobic hate attack on a Muslim airline employee at JFK Airport.

According to police, Robin A. Rhodes, 57, of Worchester, Mass., attacked a female Muslim employee in her office at the Delta Sky Lounge. The victim wears and Islamic head scarf, or hijab, in observance of her faith.

According to police, Rhodes first asked the victim “Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?”  Next, Rhodes threatened to kick the victim in the “[expletive deleted] ass,” and kicked the victim in the leg.  Rhodes next stepped into the victim’s office, blocking the door.  When the victim was able to escape, Rhodes followed her, shouting: “[Expletive deleted] Islam, [Expletive deleted] ISIS, Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens.”

SEE: 'ISIS, Trump is here now' Mass. man yells while attacking Muslim airline employee: Queens DA
http://www.metro.us/new-york/hate-crime-at-jfk-mass-man-allegedly-assaults-muslim-delta-employee/zsJqaA---pNQWZ10ReeOlU/

Trump fan charged with hate crimes over JFK Muslim attack
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38767871

“No election or president gives bigots the right to attack Americans going about their daily business and observing their faith,” said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR-NY. “New York’s airports are a gateway to travelers from around the world.  They should showcase our diversity and religious freedom, not bigotry and hate.”

“We’re grateful to our law enforcement partners for their quick response to this disturbing attack,” said CAIR-NY Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn. “For every one hatemonger, we know that there are thousands of New Yorkers who stand in support of their Muslim neighbors”

The attack came at the same time that thousands of New Yorkers gathered in Washington Square Park to support Muslim and undocumented New Yorkers.  The peaceful rally, which drew more than 3,000 demonstrators to Washington Square Park, opposed the very type of violence that unfolded just a few miles away at JFK.

SEE: Thousands Join CAIR-NY Rally Against Trump's Expected ‘Muslim Ban’ Executive Orders
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/1/26/thousands-join-cair-ny-rally-against-trumps-expected-muslim-ban-executive-orders

This arrest was just the latest in a string of violent hate crimes in the New York region.  Earlier this week, CAIR-NY welcomed the arrest of Andrew M. Plachecki for violently attacking a New Paltz, NY, Cab driver.  Plachecki, who works as a corrections officer in Rockland county, NY, was charged with multiple felony hate crimes after allegedly holding a gun to the head of a Muslim cab driver and calling him a “motherf---ing piece of Muslim sh-t.”

See: New Paltz hate crime suspect is corrections officer in Rockland County
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/1/23/cair-ny-welcomes-arrest-in-islamophobic-hate-attack-on-new-york-cab-driver

SEE: CAIR-NY Welcomes Arrest in Islamophobic Hate Attack on New York Cab Driver
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/1/23/cair-ny-welcomes-arrest-in-islamophobic-hate-attack-on-new-york-cab-driver

That same day, CAIR-NY welcomed an arrest in a hate attack on a Brooklyn priest.  As a civil rights organization, CAIR-NY is committed to speaking out whenever any New Yorkers are targeted on the basis of their faith.  In that matter, the alleged perpetrator shouted racial slurs, spat on the victim, and brandished a baseball bat.

SEE: CAIR-NY Welcomes Arrest in Hate Attack on Brooklyn Priest
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/1/23/new-york-chapter-of-cair-condemns-racial-hate-attack-against-nigerian-priest-in-brooklyn

Similarly, CAIR-NY condemned a bomb threat last week against a Syracuse Jewish Community Center.  The threat, which was made by telephone, forced the center to evacuate its facility and conduct a sweep with bomb-sniffing dogs.

SEE: CAIR-NY Condemns Bomb Threats Against Syracuse, NY Jewish Community
http://www.cair-ny.org/news/2017/1/19/cair-ny-condemns-bomb-threats-against-syracuse-ny-jewish-community
 
Additionally, late last month, CAIR’s national office expressed solidarity with Montana’s Jewish communities after neo-Nazis announced plans to stage an armed, anti-Semitic march in that state.  In that case, a leader of the neo-Nazi movement announced plans for the hate march in Whitefish, Montana “against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either.”
  
Muslim community members are asked to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR-NY at (646) 665-7599, or by filing a report at: http://www.cair-ny.org/incident-report/
 
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
 
La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.
 
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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, anasher@cair.com; Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn, 571-766-6273, acahn@cair.com

 

 

Thousands Join CAIR-NY Rally Against Trump's Expected ‘Muslim Ban’ Executive Orders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(New York, NY 1/26/17) – Yesterday, the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), a leading New York advocacy group forMuslim civil rights, was joined by thousands of demonstrators to oppose President Donald Trump’s expected announcement of new restrictions targeting Muslim and undocumented Americans.  The executive orders, will reportedly restrict immigration from Syria and six other Middle Eastern and African countries.

Organizers estimate that more than 3,000 participants joined the peaceful Washington Square Demonstration.  Speakers included many leading New York City elected officials, civil rights groups, and faith leaders.

SEE: Thousands rally in Manhattan to protest President Trump's executive orders on immigration

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/thousands-rally-nyc-protest-trump-immigration-orders-article-1.2955809

“These executive orders will not make our nation safer; rather they will signal to the world that America condones discriminatory religious based profiling in its immigration policies,” said CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher.  “Our strength lies in our diversity, and our mission is to ensure justice for all New Yorkers.”

“We are not the city of Donald Trump’s Gilded skyscrapers, we are not the city of Donald Trump’s Wall Street cabinet, we are the city of diversity and faith, the city of love and compassion,” said CAIR-NY Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Fox Cahn.  “We are the city that shows up, and shows the world that this city, this great city, will always remain a beacon of light.”

Speakers:

·         Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York Executive Director Afaf Nasher, Esq.;

·         Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn, Esq.;

·         Rep. Nydia Velazquez (NY 7th District);

·         New York City Public Advocate Letitia James;

·         New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer;

·         New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito;

·         Council Member Corey Johnson (Dist. 3);

·         Council Member Helen Rosenthal (Dist.6);

·         Council Member I. Daneek Miller (Dist. 27);

·         Council Member Jumaane D. Williams (Dist. 45);

·         New York Immigration Coalition Director of Political Engagement Murad Awawdeh;

·         New York City Commission on Human Rights Lead Advisor Rama Issa;

·         Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Assistant Commissioner Kavita Pawria-Sanchez;

·         SEIU 32BJ Executive Board Member Walter Cooper;

·         New York Civil Liberties Union Staff Attorney Jordan Wells;

·         New York Civil Liberties Union Teen Activist Program Member Odalys Diego;

·         CUNY CLEAR Staff Attorney Tarek Ismail

·         Association of Muslim-American Lawyers Board Member Iman Boukadoum;

·         Dream Action Coalition Co-Director Cesar Vargas;

·         Interfaith Center of New York Executive Director Rev. Chloe Breyer;

·         Buddhist Council of New York President Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki;

·         Sadhana Co-Founder & Board Member Sunita Viswanath;

·         Lab/Shul Executive and Spiritual Director Amichai Lau-Lavie;

·         African Communities Together Organizer Fatoumata Waggeh;

·         Muslim Community Network Executive Assistant Widad Hassan;

·         Arab American Association of New York, Executive Director, Linda Sarsour;

·         Islamic Center at New York University Affiliate Muslim Chaplain Faiyaz Jaffer

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua. 

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CONTACT: CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher, 917-669-4006, anasher@cair.com; Director of Strategic Litigation Albert Cahn, 571-766-6273, acahn@cair.com

 

 

Fearful of what Trump could do next, Syracuse’s Muslim community remains committed to educating others about Islam

Nada Odeh recalls how, in late 2011, Syrian regime soldiers boarded her 10-year-old daughter’s school bus. They were looking for rebels, she said, and pointing their guns at the kids.

“Every time (Ali and Mariam) were going to school, I was so scared they might not get back,” Odeh said, referring to her two children. At the time of the incident, the family was living in Damascus, the Middle Eastern nation’s capital.

http://dailyorange.com/2017/01/fearful-of-what-trump-could-do-next-syracuses-muslim-community-remains-committed-to-educating-others-about-islam/

 

Muslim Americans Ready to Resist Trump Bigly!

In the months after the 9/11 attacks, countless Muslim Americans went into “hiding.” They Americanized their names, stopped talking publicly about being Muslim and even avoided attending Muslim community events. On some level it was understandable. There had been a surge in hate crimes against Muslim Americans in the aftermath of 9/11 and there was a great deal of uncertainty and fear.

Read more:

 

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.”

Read more:

Bill de Blasio and Sadiq Khan, London’s First Muslim Mayor, Tout Values at Forum

By Madina Toure • 09/18/16 8:06pm

Mayor Bill de Blasio listens as his London counterpart, Sadiq Khan, the city’s first Muslim mayor, speaks. (Photo: Madina Toure for Observer)

Global pals Mayor Bill de Blasio and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, that city’s first Muslim mayor, discussed their vision for inclusive, progressive cities and doubled down again at anti-immigrant rhetoric in the presidential race.

The forum—titled “Building Inclusive and Progressive Cities” and held at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City—was moderated by Dalia Fahmy, assistant professor of political science at LIU Brooklyn. The forum was hosted the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit.

The two mayors—who have known each other since 2014—shared what they have done and plan to do to make their cities more inclusive and progressive, discussed recent hate crimes against Muslims in their cities and throughout the country and weighed in on the current presidential race.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks during a forum in Long Island City. (Photo: Madina Toure for Observer)

Khan said he was especially impressed by de Blasio’s “Tale of Two Cities” campaign message, saying de Blasio “managed to articulate a mood and a feeling that New York has felt and I feel that London has felt and still feels.”

He said that it is important to note that “we have multiple layers of identity”: he says he is proud of his British, European, Asian, Muslim and Pakistani identities.

“When you become a successful politician, whether it’s a mayor, a member of parliament or a president—it’s really important to be inclusive,” Khan said. “During my campaign, we had a strap line which I genuinely believe in, which is a mayor for all Londoners. I will say this with humility but to be frank: I’m not a Muslim mayor, I am a mayor of Islamic faith.”

De Blasio touted his 10-year affordable housing plan and his universal pre-kindergarten initiative as signs that he has addressed the “Tale of Two Cities” dilemma. He said that creating affordable housing on a massive scale gets “at the heart of the number one expense in people’s lives” and that universal pre-K provides “educational opportunities across the board.”

“I think what you (Khan) did in your campaign was we said, ‘It’s time to say this out loud and address it,'” de Blasio said. “The good news is you can, you actually can address it.”

And though neither mayor directly named—and said they wouldn’t—Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, it was clear where the two mayors stood on the upcoming election in November. 

Khan said his opponent was creating the impression that London “wasn’t ready to elect a politician of Islamic faith” and that some of the “worst sorts of Islamophobia you’ve ever seen were commented on during the campaign.”

He said his approach was to “energize, infuse and excite people” to join his campaign, giving people a choice of “hope over fear, unity over division”—something he believes will play out similarly in the upcoming presidential election. 

“And I’m optimistic over the next few weeks and months, I shouldn’t really get involved in the American election,” he said, to roaring laughter. “And I hope the best candidate wins and I’m sure she will,” he said, namelessly referring to Clinton as both de Blasio and the crowd laughed and applauded.

“That was very subtle,” de Blasio said in response.

Mayor Bill de Blasio listens during a forum alongside London Mayor Sadiq Khan. (Photo: Madina Toure for Observer)

De Blasio, for his part, said that “people who are different” have been subject to “decades and decades” of mistreatment that increased particularly since the September 11, 2001 attacks that brought on a “rampant Islamophobia.”

But he said this has also been met by “crazy national attempts by some to indict immigrants,” noting that that might work in Iceland—though he said that would still be “morally wrong”—but that the United States “was based on immigration from its earliest moments and never stopped being based on immigration.”

“Half the people who are attacking ‘immigrants’ had immigrant grandparents or immigrant great-grandparents,” de Blasio said. “This is backward.”

On the subject of the explosion in the Chelsea neighborhood Saturday night that injured 29 people, the mayor noted that it was Police Commissioner James O’Neill’s first full day as the city’s top cop and praised New Yorkers for not giving into fears stoked by terrorism. Khan, for his part, said London “stands with New Yorkers” and said he was impressed by the mayor’s response—addressing people’s concerns instead of playing on fears.

The pair drew laughs several times throughout the forum, with Khan saying more than once that New York City is the “second best city in the world.” De Blasio also referred to him as his “good friend.” 

The pair frequently praised one another, with de Blasio smiling and listening intently and proudly as Khan spoke. When the two were asked about how they help minority women succeed, de Blasio also praised Khan’s “mum” for raising him well and said that his wife, First Lady Chirlane McCray, puts pressure on him to address women’s issues. 

Indeed, the two mayors have already struck up a friendship that goes back to 2014 when they first met at a Labor Party Conference in Manchester, England, according to de Blasio when he publicly congratulated him in May. 

And like de Blasio, Khan has not been shy about his disdain for Trump. In an interview with TIME Magazine in May, he praised de Blasio for “doing interesting housing stuff in New York,” he said he would be interested in meeting and engaging with American mayors—but that a Trump presidency may stop someone like him from entering the United States. (In response, Trump actually told the New York Times that Khan could be an exception to the ban.)

Also spotted at the forum were City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Queens Councilman I. Daneek Miller—the Council’s only Muslim member—and Assemblyman David Weprin. 

Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.

 The Only Way for Muslim Americans to Be Considered Patriotic: Stay Silent

From Khizr Khan to Fareed Zakaria, Muslims who speak out are smeared as un-American.
By Laila Lalami
September 14, 2016

 Khizr Khan holds a copy of the US Constitution as he makes remarks during the fourth session of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. (Rex Features via AP Images)

This election season has been bruising and divisive, but it has had the one advantage of clarifying for Muslims that we are conditional citizens. We must constantly prove our allegiance by showing gratitude to America, muting criticism of the government and its foreign policy, and denouncing any Muslim, anywhere in the world, who takes it upon himself to commit an act of violence. If we fail to abide by these rules, our loyalty is called into question.

July’s Democratic National Convention provided a clear example of what I mean by “conditional citizenship.” On the final night of the convention, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Muslim couple from Virginia, took to the stage to speak about their son Humayun, an Army captain who was killed in the Iraq war in 2004. Mr. Khan praised America and eulogized his son, but he also criticized Donald Trump for his proposal to ban Muslims. Pulling out a copy of the Constitution from his breast pocket, he asked, “Have you even read the United States Constitution?” It was an electrifying moment, and it turned the Khans into instant media sensations.

Had this challenge about the Constitution been made by a non-Muslim, Trump’s response would likely have been a dismissive “Yes, I’ve read it many times, believe me,” perhaps followed by an insult of the kind he frequently levels against his critics. But because the challenge was made by a Muslim, Trump resorted to bigotry. He insinuated that Ghazala Khan, who stood silently by her husband’s side, had been prevented from speaking because of her religion and that Khizr Khan had “no right” to say what he did. Four days after the convention, a Trump surrogate began circulating rumors online that Khizr Khan had “ties” to the Muslim Brotherhood and that Captain Khan was a jihadist who had joined the Army in order to kill Americans. This was how, in less than a week, Humayun Khan went from being remembered as a war hero to being cast as a stealth terrorist. Captain Khan’s citizenship had been conditional on his service and his silence, but when his father spoke up to demand equal rights, the entire family was smeared.

The Khans are not alone. Whenever Muslims become politically prominent, their views are scrutinized and their visibility is challenged. In July, when Fareed Zakaria criticized Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, Ann Coulter immediately mocked his “thick Indian accent.” I do not recall anyone attacking Fareed Zakaria for his accent back in 2003, when he argued forcefully in support of the US invasion of Iraq. But now that he has become more critical of that war, publicly embraced his Muslim identity in a Washington Post column, and become outspoken about Trumpism, he is being accused of promoting the “jihad rape of white women,” a claim so ridiculous that it is hard to believe anyone would put any stock in it. And yet the accusation continues to circulate online.

Then, in August, the New York Post ran an article claiming that Huma Abedin, an aide to Hillary Clinton, had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood because she worked as an assistant editor of a “sharia newspaper.” In fact, the newspaper in question was an academic journal on Muslim minority affairs, founded by Abedin’s father and now edited by her mother. The claim that Abedin had connections to the Brotherhood had no factual basis, but that did not stop Roger Stone, an advisor to Donald Trump, from calling Abedin a “Saudi asset.” Pause for a moment and consider what this term implies. Whatever Abedin’s religious views, the very fact that she identifies as a Muslim has made her, according to Stone, an agent for a foreign government and a traitor to her own country.

To be considered properly American, then, Muslims must serve their nation and remain silent. American Muslims have it much better in this country than anywhere else in the world, the logic goes, and therefore we ought to be quiet. If we become critical of establishment figures or dare to challenge political orthodoxies, our patriotism is disputed.

So rooted has the traitor/patriot dichotomy become that it can be used to attack non-Muslims as well. When Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, refused to stand for the national anthem as a protest against police brutality, rumors spread that he had converted to Islam. It did not seem to matter that Kaepernick identifies as a Christian or that he has Bible verses tattooed all over his body. The fact that his girlfriend is Muslim was sufficient to give weight to the rumors. Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the flag could only mean that he was not really American, and thus he became Muslim.

None of this is new. For the last eight years, the conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States has fed on—and, in a vicious circle, been fed by—the claim that he is a secret Muslim. By linking Obama to Islam, the far right has found it easier to argue that he is weak on terror, that he has ties to the Weather Underground, or even, as Donald Trump recently claimed, that he founded ISIS.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is stronger in the United States today than it has been at any time in the last fifteen years, including immediately after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Many more Muslims are in the public eye than there were back then, however, not just in politics, but also in film and television, in arts and culture, in music and sports. This increased visibility is what is being challenged. So Peter King holds House hearings, Newt Gingrich proposes loyalty tests, Ted Cruz suggests monitoring our neighborhoods, and Donald Trump wins the Republican party’s nomination on a platform that includes a Muslim ban. The message to Muslims could not be clearer: We are guilty until proven innocent.

Conditional citizens are treated with fear and suspicion. We are expected to demonstrate our allegiance and offer blind support. But the true measure of patriotism is not silence or acquiescence; it is dissent and debate.