As the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights conducts hearings on "Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims," we write to provide the Committee with the Anti-Defamation League’s views on this specific topic.
A significant level of anti-Muslim bigotry has surfaced in a variety of public forums over the past year. While some of the anti-Muslim sentiment has fed on growing community concerns about Islamic extremism, much of it has focused on various plans to relocate or expand mosques around the country. Many of those debates have been characterized by unfair stereotyping and prejudice that have singled out the Muslim American community for special scrutiny and suspicion.
There are many ways to measure the nature and magnitude of anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry in the United States. Our statement specifically addresses several forms of hostility:
- Efforts to prevent mosques and other religious institutions from being built in communities;
- Offensive and unwarranted legislative initiatives targeting a phantom threat – the infiltration of Shari’a (Islamic) law into America’s judicial system.
- Anti-Muslim discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC);
- Reported hate crimes directed against Muslims;
Information on these issues is contained in the attached ADL Backgrounder on Anti-Muslim Discrimination and Bigotry, as well as the select list of resources at the end of the Backgrounder.
The Anti-Defamation League is known for its creative and innovative anti-bias education and training initiatives. ADL has crafted a variety of training activities, resources, and curriculum lessons that incorporate the topic of anti-Muslim bigotry and provide an opportunity for participants to explore Muslim identity. Background on the League’s education and training work in promoting respect and understanding is also included as part of the listing of resources.
The Federal government has an important role to play in addressing the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry – and all forms of racism, discrimination, and anti-Semitism. We applaud the Justice Department’s very strong hate crime enforcement efforts and its effective, continuing commitment to promoting and protecting religious freedom rights for all Americans. The Department of Education, as well, has compiled an impressive record of inclusive actions and initiatives – especially its October 26, 2010 Dear Colleague guidance on bullying and harassment for the nation’s schools. The Department should also fund program development in this area and promote awareness of initiatives that work. Congress should support Federal agency actions and legislative initiatives that combat discrimination and profiling and promote respect and religious liberty in our schools and communities.
Finally, we believe public officials and, particularly, religious leaders, have a special responsibility to demonstrate sensitivity and respect when addressing the issue of anti-Muslim bigotry. In this regard, we applaud the Subcommittee for holding these hearings and very much hope our background information is helpful to you as you probe this problem and recommend policy responses.
Robert G. Sugarman
Abraham H. Foxman