SAALT Applauds Two Orders by Federal Courts Blocking Muslim Ban 3.0

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

In response to orders by Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii and Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland temporarily blocking implementation of the Trump administration’s third attempt at a Muslim Ban, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), released the following statement:

“SAALT applauds the decisions by Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii and Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland to block this administration’s latest attempt at a Muslim Ban. The highest ideals of our country are rooted in the freedom to exist without fear of government persecution. Between the two orders, the courts have proclaimed that the administration overstepped its authority in issuing a ban that ‘plainly discriminates based on nationality’ contrary to the ‘founding principles of this Nation’ and that the President’s own words on the campaign trail and on social media demonstrate this ban was explicitly intended to target Muslims.

The administration has labored throughout the last 9 months to implement a ban that could withstand judicial scrutiny, but the courts have not been convinced, stating vigorously that this latest ban reflects the same discriminatory intent as the two previous bans. These bans codify bigotry and xenophobia and are out of sync with our Constitution and our nation’s values.

Hate violence has skyrocketed during the President’s tenure in the White House, with white supremacist hate groups emboldened and encouraged by policies that demonize and paint our communities with suspicion. SAALT has documented over 184 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans since the presidential elections, figures rivaling the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

As this administration continues to pursue its discriminatory policies, we’ve seen that our communities cannot rely solely on the courts to deliver justice. We are stronger when we stand together. Today SAALT and our national partners have taken to the streets nationwide in support of the #NoMuslimBanEver campaign to demand dignity and full inclusion for our communities and all Americans. SAALT, alongside our partners, allies, and communities will continue to hold the line until justice is served for all.”

***
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi
vivek@saalt.org

Civil Rights Coalition Delivers 110,000 Petitions Urging Congress to Rescind Muslim Ban Immediately

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Washington – This morning, a coalition of 15 organizations delivered a joint petition with over 110,000 signatures to members of Congress calling for legislation to rescind the newest version of the Muslim Ban immediately.

“We call on Congress today to rise to the challenge of putting country before politics and to protect the rights of all people living in the United States by defending the Constitution,” the joint letter read, “and by rejecting the ‘total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States’ from forever being enshrined in history books as the official policy of the United States.”

The coalition of organizations includes: ACCESS, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International USA,
Arab American Institute (AAI), Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Iranian American Bar Association (IABA), Muslim Advocates, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), NIAC Action, National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

The petition was delivered to the offices of Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA). Today also marks the day that the September 24 presidential Proclamation, commonly known as Muslim Ban 3.0, was set to go into effect.

To avoid a repetitive cycle of new versions of the Muslim Ban, the 15 organizations are calling on Congress to “fulfill their duties and immediately pass legislation to rescind the unconstitutional Muslim Ban and make absolutely clear that such attempts to target Muslims, or anyone on the basis of national origin, are unlawful.

***
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Slams White House’s Immigration ‘Priorities’ List as Unacceptable; Calls on Leaders to Pass Clean DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

In response to the White House’s release of a series of hard-line measures required in exchange for allowing DREAMers to remain in the United States through the proposed DREAM Act, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT, released the following statement:

“SAALT has vocally supported the passage of a clean DREAM Act since the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on September 5, 2017. In demanding a clean DREAM Act, we are stating unequivocally that any legislation must not include measures to increase border or interior enforcement, no cuts to family immigration, and no threats to legal immigration. All of these unacceptable provisions were included in the Administration’s priorities list issued this weekend.

Specifically, these ‘priorities’ include ramping up border and interior enforcement, including the construction of a wall along the Mexico border, a further crackdown on sanctuary cities, an extreme cap on refugees and asylum seekers, and a deep slash to family and legal immigration numbers.

It is a patently false construct to assume that ramping up enforcement and cutting immigration from every angle is a necessary step to ensure a legislative solution, one that is desperately needed after the inhumane rescission of the DACA program by this administration.

Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 from Pakistan are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility. These individuals and families must be protected through legislation without a barrage of unconscionable measures attached therein.

Immigrants are not a threat to our national security. Instead, as numerous studies have shown, they enhance our nation and give us the opportunity to live up to our ideals as a country. Moreover, two-thirds of Americans support the DREAM Act as well as over 50% of elected officials across party lines.

With this public mandate behind them, our leaders must stay strong and ensure that this administration’s ‘priorities’ do not serve as a starting point for any bargaining at the expense of immigrant communities. What we deserve is a clean DREAM Act rooted in dignity and inclusion for all immigrant communities. We will not settle for anything less.”

***

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Civil Rights Groups, North Carolina State and Local Officials Call For An End to Hate Violence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), issued the following statement subsequent to SAALT’s October 7 town hall on hate violence in Cary, North Carolina in collaboration with state and local officials, law enforcement, and community based organizations:

“America’s highest ideals are rooted in the fact that we are all created equal and have the right to pray, love, live with freedom. Nevertheless, our communities continue to be attacked and targeted via legislation based upon our real and perceived religion. This has to end.”

“From three Muslim Bans to contemptible support of white supremacy, this administration has encouraged and emboldened hate violence against our communities.  Since the election of President Trump, SAALT has tracked over 179 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern American, already surpassing totals from the year leading up to the 2016 election.”

“In February 2015 three young Muslim Chapel Hill students and activists were murdered in their home by their neighbor.  In June 2016 Army Reserve officer Russel Thomas Langford left bacon outside of a mosque, harassed congregants in the parking lot, and then made death threats, which according to Capt. John Kivett of the Sheriff’s Office, included telling “people at the mosque that he would kill them and bury them behind the mosque.”  In May 2017, vulgar Islamophobic cartoons depicting a pig performing a sexual act on top of a Muslim man were posted across the residential halls at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.”

“These incidents reflect increasing bigotry and division targeting our communities across the country. This administration has done nothing to prevent or condemn vigilante violence or to denounce the views of die-hard racists, and has rather used the full power of the federal government to refill our nation’s reservoir of hate with every anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policy and tweet it hurls.”

“In response to the uptick in hate violence targeting South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities around the country, SAALT is hosting regional town halls this year on key issues for our communities. SAALT thanks Attorney General Josh Stein, Senator Angela Bryant, Senator Jay Chaudhuri, Former Representative Rick Glazier, Farris Barakat, Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue, the North Carolina members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), and our allies and sponsors for collaborating on this urgent town hall.

In this time of political and social divisiveness, an answer to hate violence seems impossible, yet the solution remains clear: we must remain united for action and stand with each other to demand that all Americans are afforded full inclusion and justice in our country.  We must refuse to allow prejudice to go unchecked as we work to form a more perfect union together.”

*** 

Quotes:

Attorney General Josh Stein:

“Criminals who target people with violence because of who they are, where they are from, or how they pray must be condemned. Hate crimes go against everything this country stands for. I am committed to strengthening North Carolina’s response to hate crimes and working collaboratively to prevent these crimes that incite fear and vulnerability among our neighbors.”

State Senator Jay Chaudhuri:

“America was founded on the ideal that all of us are created equal. Hate violence that targets our communities targets our country’s founding values. America has no room for violence based on someone’s race, religion, identity, and nation of origin, and we must denounce these acts in the strongest possible terms. I am committed to working with state and local authorities, and community leaders, to make sure North Carolina stands up to hate and not on the sidelines.”

Rick Glazier – Executive Director, North Carolina Justice Center

“A trust is placed in each of us-by future generations not yet born-to fulfill our maintenance obligation to fight poverty and disease, ignorance and bigotry, and apathy and distrust.”

Chavi Koneru – Executive Director, North Carolina Asian Americans Together:

“As an organization bringing to light the issues facing the Asian American community in North Carolina, we are greatly concerned about the rise in hate violence towards members of our community who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. This town hall is beginning a discussion we need to have in this state about collectively addressing the issue of hate violence and supporting policy changes that can bring it to an end.”

Ritu Kaur – Kiran Inc.

“Do you realize hate crimes and domestic violence have similar traumatic effect on the victims and on the community? Let us speak out.”

Farris Barakat – The Lighthouse Projects

“As prejudice and discrimination threaten more people and is normalized in offices as high up as the presidency, an active and grassroots effort to counter this darkness is a civic duty on the people of consciousness.”

Kulpreet Singh – Sikh Gurdwara

“Each of us is a tremendous resource, and the world is a better place when we communicate and work together because of, not despite, our differences.”

Chris Blue – Town of Chapel Hill, Chief of Police and Executive Director for Community Safety

“I am honored to have been among the impressive panelists who spoke so passionately today about the nature of hate in our society and the determination and compassion that will be required of all of us to overcome it.  I am also heartened by the good work going on in North Carolina toward making this a place of inclusivity for everyone.”

***

Contact: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Barrage of White Supremacist Policies Continues with Latest Muslim Ban, states SAALT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s announcement of a renewed and more extensive “Muslim Ban” on the day of the expiration of the widely criticized executive order:

“No one inside or outside of the United States should be targeted based upon their skin color, their faith, or their national origin. Yesterday’s decision by the Trump administration to renew and expand on the ‘Muslim Ban’ will indefinitely legalize and expand government sanctioned discrimination against millions. This unconscionable order now targets eight countries, including some without Muslim majority populations; however this does not change the racial animus and discriminatory intent of the original Muslim ban; it simply widens the net of exclusion, a hallmark signature of this administration.”

“Candidate Trump called for a ‘Muslim Ban’ and President Trump has wasted little time in his tenure to transform that ugly rhetoric into toxic policies that betray our core American values of equality and justice, while contributing nothing to national security. This administration continues its legal gymnastics every time the ‘Muslim Ban’ is set to be heard before a court—proof positive of the fundamentally unconstitutional nature of the policy itself. The President’s rejection of the Department of Homeland Security’s report concluding that the ‘Muslim Ban’ has no security value whatsoever reveals that our country’s safety is not a priority for the President. The administration’s reckless and dangerous policies are covered with the fingerprints of white supremacy and xenophobia and nothing more.”

“The President’s policies have had deadly consequences. SAALT has documented over 160 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans since the 2016 elections. Dangerous white supremacists and hate groups—encouraged and emboldened by the White House—have targeted our communities at historic rates that rival the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.”

“The latest ban, along with the administration’s numerous anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies such as the recent decision to terminate DACA, are designed to systematically reject Americans of particular faith, national origin, and immigration status. We will continue to stand up for everyone who is unfairly targeted by this administration’s divisive policies, and we will continue to reject any and all attempts to divide our country and criminalize our communities.”

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) is a national, nonpartisan, non-profit organization that fights for racial justice and advocates for the civil rights of all South Asians in the United States. Our ultimate vision is dignity and full inclusion for all.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Barrage of White Supremacist Policies Continues with Latest Muslim Ban, states SAALT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s announcement of a renewed and more extensive “Muslim Ban” on the day of the expiration of the widely criticized executive order:

“No one inside or outside of the United States should be targeted based upon their skin color, their faith, or their national origin. Yesterday’s decision by the Trump administration to renew and expand on the ‘Muslim Ban’ will indefinitely legalize and expand government sanctioned discrimination against millions. This unconscionable order now targets eight countries, including some without Muslim majority populations; however this does not change the racial animus and discriminatory intent of the original Muslim ban; it simply widens the net of exclusion, a hallmark signature of this administration.”

“Candidate Trump called for a ‘Muslim Ban’ and President Trump has wasted little time in his tenure to transform that ugly rhetoric into toxic policies that betray our core American values of equality and justice, while contributing nothing to national security. This administration continues its legal gymnastics every time the ‘Muslim Ban’ is set to be heard before a court—proof positive of the fundamentally unconstitutional nature of the policy itself. The President’s rejection of the Department of Homeland Security’s report concluding that the ‘Muslim Ban’ has no security value whatsoever reveals that our country’s safety is not a priority for the President. The administration’s reckless and dangerous policies are covered with the fingerprints of white supremacy and xenophobia and nothing more.”

“The President’s policies have had deadly consequences. SAALT has documented over 160 incidents of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans since the 2016 elections. Dangerous white supremacists and hate groups—encouraged and emboldened by the White House—have targeted our communities at historic rates that rival the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.”

“The latest ban, along with the administration’s numerous anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies such as the recent decision to terminate DACA, are designed to systematically reject Americans of particular faith, national origin, and immigration status. We will continue to stand up for everyone who is unfairly targeted by this administration’s divisive policies, and we will continue to reject any and all attempts to divide our country and criminalize our communities.”

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT Demands A Clean DREAM Act Without Compromises

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
In response to reports of a deal on DACA made by Democratic leadership and the President, with rumors of increased border enforcement provisions included in that agreement, Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, released the following statement:

“We demand a clean DREAM Act, without any compromises on increased border enforcement that will negatively impact immigrant families. Last week’s cruel termination of DACA by President Trump is just the latest in this administration’s toxic anti-immigrant policies. Over 800,000 lives reduced to bargaining chips for a more militarized border is unconscionable, unacceptable, and un-American. Democratic leadership including Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi must stand up for DREAMers, stand up for our country’s ideals of equality and fairness for all people, and stand against this administration’s anti-immigrant policies.”

“Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 from Pakistan respectively are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility. These families are at risk of deportation and must be protected, not with a wall or more armed forces on the border, but with a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans.”

“This is a category 5 administration, threatening millions of people who find themselves in its path, forced to hide underground and in the shadows for any hope of survival. A climate change of hate is to blame, with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies blustering and wreaking havoc across our nation. Reversing this trend, before it’s too late, is the need of the hour, and it must begin with a clean DREAM Act without compromises.”

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

SAALT’s Congressional Briefing on Hate Violence Sounds the Alarm for Justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On September 12, 2017, one day after the 16th anniversary of the tragic attacks of September 11, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, held a Congressional briefing to address the rising tide of hate violence aimed at South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Arab, and Middle Eastern Americans under the current administration. SAALT was joined by five members of Congressional leadership and national partner organizations to denounce this administration’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies that embolden hate against our communities.

“Post-9/11 has transformed into present-Trump, with hate violence reaching levels that rival the aftermath of the September 11 attacks,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “The White House has a sworn responsibility to condemn and prevent all forms of hate. Today’s briefing with Congressional leaders is an important step in making sure this administration does not renounce its responsibilities to our communities and nation.”

The current administration has been fundamental to the growth and audacity of white supremacist and Islamophobic movements in the United States. The White House has unleashed numerous divisive policies that have awoken and emboldened hate against our communities, including several permutations of the “Muslim Ban,” rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and supporting the RAISE Act, among others.

Since the election, SAALT has documented over 150 incidents of hate violence against those who identify or are perceived as Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, South Asian, Middle Eastern, or Arab American, already surpassing totals from the year leading up to the 2016 election. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, anti-Muslim hate groups grew by 197% in 2016, and, according to the FBI, anti-Muslim hate crimes increased by 67% in 2015.

“SAALT, along with our national partners, will continue to demand and strive for a just and inclusive society for all Americans,” stated Ms. Raghunathan. “We stand ready to work with Congressional leaders to mount a decisive opposition to bigotry and division of all kinds and to reinforce our communities’ important place in the fabric of our nation.”

——

Co-Chairs, Sponsors, Speakers, Partners, and Quotes:

Honorary Co-Chairs of the briefing include: 
Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT);
Senator Ben Cardin (MD);
Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL)

Member Co-Sponsors of the briefing include: 
Representative Judy Chu (CA-27);
Representative Maxine Waters (CA-43);
Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13);
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7);
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Members of Congress who joined the briefing include:
Representative Judy Chu (CA-27);
Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7);
Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17)

Partner organizations include:
South Asian Network;
Desis Rising Up and Moving;
Sikh Coalition;
DACA Network

Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Chair, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus:
“Thank you to South Asian Americans Leading Together for organizing today’s briefing and being such a strong leader in the fight to defeat hate. Since the 2016 Presidential election we have witnessed heightened xenophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence targeting communities of color across the nation. This hate, rhetoric, and the violence is particularly alarming because it is reminiscent of what we saw in the aftermath of September 11 attacks, when Muslims, South Asians, Sikhs and others became the targets of hate. In 2017 we’ve seen racial tensions come to a head, which has been largely fueled by white supremacists. The Trump administration’s dangerous political rhetoric has explicitly targeted South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, Arab, and Middle Eastern communities, such as the President’s ill-conceived and un-American Muslim travel ban. But the xenophobic sentiment is also being driven by xenophobic policies such as President Trump’s decision to terminate the DACA program, and its desire to upend our family based immigration system. Our nation’s values affirm that all people deserve to be welcomed and to feel safe no matter what they look like or who they worship. Hate has no place in America, and we have to continue to remain vigilant in protecting the rights of all Americans against this rising tide of hate violence.”

Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-7):
“The hate violence we are facing in 2017 is not new. But what we are facing, what it feels like, is a sanctioned hate that comes from places like the White House. We ask that the President cease his incendiary rhetoric that helps to fuel many of these hate crimes. It is crystal clear that we still have a tremendous amount of work to do, and that work must come from leaders in Congress and from our communities insisting that we are not a country that continues this anti-immigrant xenophobic rhetoric. You can tie a direct thread between everything that has been happening and the leadership that comes from the White House. It isn’t enough just to be speak out, there needs to be accountability that actually takes direct action to ensure that the President understands that he is the President of all of the United States of America. Let’s see every defeat as an opportunity to grow our movement, and let’s see every win as a victory in our step to push for that more perfect union.”

Representative Ro Khanna (CA-17):
“It’s time that we, together as a nation, speak openly and respectfully about how to end any hate and violence directed towards Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities. I will always stand up against racism and violence. To those who have faced prejudice know that you are not alone and we are with you.”

Contact:  Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Minority leader Pelosi joins CAPAC and Asian American DREAMers to demand immediate passage of the DREAM Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national civil rights and racial justice organization, fully supports calls by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Judy Chu, and other members of Congressional leadership for the immediate passage of the DREAM Act. These demands come on the heels of last week’s decision by the Trump administration to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, the latest in this administration’s anti-immigrant policies that puts 800,000 people at risk of deportation from the only country they’ve ever called home.

“This administration’s heartless, endless efforts to target and marginalize immigrant communities makes the immediate passage of a clean DREAM Act all the more urgent,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of SAALT. “SAALT joins Congressional leadership in staunch support of the immediate passage of the DREAM Act, and we call on all elected and appointed officials to defend our communities through their words and actions.”

At a press conference on the DREAM Act, Representative Nancy Pelosi noted, “It’s an honor to be here with DREAMers, who are advancing the American dream. With their courage, with their optimism, and with their inspiration, they make America more American.”

Representative Judy Chu stated, “It was only last week that President Trump issued one of the cruelest orders he ever could, the end of DACA, forcing 800,000 people to face deportation to countries that they do not even know. We are here to say, ‘We will fight for our DREAMers.’”

Chirayu Patel, Co-Founder of the DACA Network and a DREAMer himself, stated, “I have built a life here: gone to elementary, middle school, high school, and college. The decision by President Obama in 2012 to enact the DACA program was a consequential day for me, as I believed this was the first step to earn my American citizenship. Last week’s decision by President Trump turned my life upside down. We will not be used as bargaining chips in political gamesmanship between the parties. We are calling on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act now. Now is the time for Congress to make a decision on whether they’re going to support us or if they’re going to stand in the way of progress.”

Over 27,000 Asian Americans, including 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis, have already received DACA. An additional estimated 17,000 individuals from India and 6,000 Pakistan respectively are eligible for DACA, placing India in the top ten countries for DACA eligibility. With the termination of DACA, these individuals could face deportation at the discretion of the administration.

Our immigration laws are badly broken – disregarding our values is not the answer to fixing them. We call on Congress to do its job and immediately pass a clean DREAM Act that creates a roadmap to citizenship for aspiring new Americans. This is the only way to align our immigration laws with the values Americans hold dear.

CONTACT: Vivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org

Civil Rights Coalition Denounces ACT For America’s Anti-Muslim Online Campaign; Calls on the President to #CounterACTHate

Washington – Civil rights leaders, faith based, human rights, and community organizations condemn today’s bigoted, anti-Muslim online campaign by ACT for America, reportedly the nation’s largest anti-Muslim hate group.  This online campaign was scheduled for just two days before the anniversary of September 11 to target and manufacture hatred for American Muslims at a time when violence against Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh communities is reaching historic highs.

ACT originally planned to coordinate 67 anti-Muslim rallies across 36 states under the theme “America First.”  However, after thousands of Americans came out in peaceful resistance to white supremacy and racism in Charlottesville and Boston, ACT decided to call off its rallies and shift to today’s online campaign, a clear signal that messages of justice and solidarity are drowning out messages of hate nationwide.

This is not the first time civil rights groups and anti-racist protestors stared down ACT’s bigotry.  In June ACT held anti-Muslim rallies in 30 cities across the nation under the theme “March Against Shariah”.  This campaign was met with strong resistance from civil rights groups who held alternative events that telegraphed calls for love, fairness, and justice. The Trump administration was silent in response.

ACT’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has made her racism clear. She has said, “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and has argued, outrageously, that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.”  In a video message launching the America First rallies, Ms. Gabriel exclaims, “Let’s show our president that we are behind him in securing our nation.” In accordance with the bigotry that ACT promotes, its previous anti-Muslim rallies have attracted a host of armed militia-type groups and white nationalists.

Likewise, President Trump has made no secret of his bigotry,, stating on the record, “I think Islam hates us” and moving forward with his administration’s dogged pursuit of a “Muslim Ban,” among other policies.  The words and actions of the administration, including high-level advisors who are known standard-bearers for white supremacist movements, as well as the President himself, increasingly fuel and validate violence targeting Muslims and people perceived as Muslim. The FBI’s 2015 hate crimes statistics, the most updated data available, show a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015, while violence aimed at South Asian, Sikh, and Arab communities continue to rise. The xenophobic statements by the President and Gabriel run counter to the values of justice and inclusivity that we seek to uphold.

Peaceful resistance by civil rights groups, immigrant and faith communities, and communities of color has been the strongest counterweight to the insults and injuries of white supremacists and this administration. We demand this administration, and all elected and appointed officials, condemn groups that peddle hate in the strongest possible terms, and back that condemnation with swift action and policies that contribute to the transformation of our institutions. The hatred must stop now. As a coalition of diverse organizations representing communities of color and immigrants at the national, state, and local levels, we are committed to condemning bigotry of all kinds and advancing the principles of racial justice.

Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together, said, “ACT for America’s racism and fear mongering are incompatible with core American values of justice and equality in a nation where people of color will constitute a majority of residents within the next two decades.  ACT’s decision to shift from nationwide rallies to an online campaign, while still toxic, is in no small terms a victory and emblematic of the power of standing together, united from all faiths and backgrounds against bigotry. The Trump administration must end its anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant campaign that emboldens hate groups to commit horrific acts of violence against our communities. Silence is no longer an option. The President, along with all elected and appointed officials, must condemn Islamophobia and white supremacy and ensure that our communities can live in a just and inclusive society for all Americans.”