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.”