Ilhan Omar, Democrat lawmakers propose State Department Islamophobia representative

Ilhan Omar, Democrat lawmakers propose State Department Islamophobia representative
US lawmaker Ilhan Omar, one of two Congresswomen at the forefront of the legislative effort, noted: 'We are seeing a rise in Islamophobia in nearly every corner of the globe.'
3 min read
22 October, 2021
US Democratic Party lawmaker Ilhan Omar's move has been well received by Muslim groups [Anna Moneymaker/Getty]

US Democratic Party lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky on Thursday proposed a bill designed to create a dedicated global Islamophobia representative within the State Department.

The move drew praise from around 30 American non-profits and other organisations, including the country's biggest Muslim rights NGO, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

The Combating International Islamophobia Act "requires the State Department to create a Special Envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia", according to a press release from Omar's Congress website.

If passed, it would also force Washington's equivalent of a foreign ministry to "include state-sponsored Islamophobic violence and impunity in the Department's annual human rights report".

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Nihad Awad, national executive director at CAIR, explained the NGO "welcomes the introduction of Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky's Combating International Islamophobia Act".

"While global Islamophobia, anti-Muslim state policies and hate incidents have increased for the past two decades, the American Muslim community has consistently called for the creation of a special envoy position to monitor and combat this rising tide of hate."

Awad said he urges the White House and senior figures in Congress to back the bill and help bring the role to life.

Omar noted: "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 Moorehead Fargo Islamic Center.

"These types of incidents are all too common for Muslims in the United States and beyond."

For her part, Schakowsky explained: "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."

The Illinois congresswoman argued "[i]t is past time" Washington creates a "comprehensive plan" to fight anti-Muslim bigotry globally, noting she is "proud" to be putting the bill forward with Omar.

Among 31 other co-sponsors are New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jamaal Bowman, Michigan's Rashida Tlaib and Massachusetts' Ayanna Pressley, members of the "Squad" of progressive lawmakers alongside Omar.

Among other groups backing the bill are Democracy for the Arab World Now, which was created by murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, American Muslims for Palestine, Oxfam America, the Islamophobia Studies Center, Jewish Voice for Peace Action and the United Church of Christ.