The federal government would have a dedicated, high-ranking official monitoring Islamophobic incidents worldwide under a new bill being introduced Thursday by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).
The Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Islamophobia, which would be embedded within the State Department, would monitor anti-Muslim incidents in foreign countries and document state-sponsored Islamophobic violence in the State Department’s annual human rights report. The report, which carries significant diplomatic weight, does not routinely monitor such incidents.
The bill ― titled the Combating International Islamophobia Act and co-sponsored by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Andy Kim (D-N.J.), among dozens of other Democrats ― comes at a time when anti-Muslim violence continues to rise. This summer, CNN reported the group was working on this legislation, and HuffPost has learned it will be introduced Thursday.
Earlier this month, a study conducted by the Othering and Belonging Institute found that over two-thirds of Muslim Americans have faced Islamophobia and that an overwhelming 94% of respondents said it impacted their emotional and mental health. In the United States alone, the Council on American-Islamic Relations documented over 500 complaints of anti-Muslim hate and bias between January and July 2021, according to a recent report. Globally, Islamophobia has risen to “epidemic proportions,” noted the United Nations Human Rights Council in March, adding that “numerous states, regional and international bodies” were to blame for that stark increase.
“We are seeing a rise in Islamophobia in nearly every corner of the globe. In my home state of Minnesota, vandals spray-painted hate messages and a Nazi swastika on and near the Moorhead Fargo Islamic Center. These types of incidents are all too common for Muslims in the United States and beyond,” Omar said in a statement.
“As part of our commitment to international religious freedom and human rights, we must recognize Islamophobia and do all we can to eradicate it. That’s why I’m proud to partner with Rep. Jan Schakowsky to create a special envoy to put an end to this bigotry,” she added.
In June, three generations of a Muslim family were killed in a premeditated attack in Canada after a driver in a pickup truck ran them down because they were Muslim. China is accused of committing genocide against Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups amid a series of chilling reports of Muslims being put in camps, surveilled and spied on in their homes, and undergoing forced sterilizations, as well as widespread destruction of Muslim mosques. Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, also denied allegations of genocide in another example of state-sponsored Islamophobia over the ongoing persecution of the Muslim Rohingya minority group by the state’s military. The U.N. found evidence of wide-scale human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, gang rapes, and arson of Rohingya villages and schools.
“For over a decade we have seen increasing incidents of violent Islamophobia both in the U.S. and worldwide ― from the genocide of the Rohingya in Burma, and Uyghurs in China, to the attacks on Muslim refugees in Canada and New Zealand,” Schakowsky said in statement. “It is past time for the U.S. to establish a comprehensive plan for combating this hatred worldwide.”