Washington

Ilhan Omar leads congressional call for U.S. special envoy to combat Islamophobia


Rep. Ilhan Omar is leading House lawmakers demanding the Biden administration create a special envoy to combat Islamophobia, citing a rise in anti-Muslim incidents across the globe.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the lawmakers said the U.S. must take the lead in combatting the phenomenon.

“As part of our commitment to international religious freedom and human rights, we must recognize Islamophobia as a pattern that is repeating in nearly every corner of the globe,” the lawmakers wrote.

Ms. Omar, a Muslim and a member of the “Squad” of young far-left Congress members, was joined by Jan Schakowsky, a Jewish Illinois Democrat, to spearhead the effort. The letter was co-signed by 23 House members of various faiths.

“Anti-Muslim hate is on the rise both here at home and around the world,” Ms. Omar, Minnesota Democrat, said when announcing the initiative. “This year has seen over 500 incidents of hate in the U.S.—and those are just the ones that have been reported.”

Ms. Omar’s championing of the interfaith effort comes one month after her anti-Israel rhetoric that her Jewish Democratic colleagues called offensive and reflecting “deep-seated prejudice.”

She later clarified her remarks which equated the U.S. and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban. She said she was “in no way equating terrorist organizations with democratic countries.”

Ms. Omar and other members of the Squad accused her critics of advancing Islamophobia and “anti-Blackness.”

The letter the lawmakers sent Tuesday followed the Council on American and Islamic Relations (CAIR)’s mid-year report that documented more than 500 complaints including anti-Muslim hate crimes, discrimination, and other issues across the country, which they said marks an uptick over previous years.

The report specifically noted a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in May and June, which they said corresponded with the Israeli-Hamas conflict in the Spring.

The letter to Mr. Blinken also calls for U.S. leadership abroad in response to what the lawmakers say is a “pattern that is repeating in nearly every corner of the globe.”

“From the ongoing atrocity crimes being committed against Uyghurs in China and the Rohingya in Burma, to the significant restrictions on Muslim populations in India and Sri Lanka, to the stoking of Islamophobia by political actors that is leading to violence in North American and Europe, to the severe human rights violations against certain sects of Muslims in Pakistan and Bahrain, this is a genuinely global problem that the United States should tackle globally,” the lawmakers wrote.

President Biden announced this week that he would appoint an ambassador-at-large to monitor antisemitism. The State Department created a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism in 2004, and Congress recently voted to increase the position to the rank of ambassador.

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