Chairman McGovern Opens Debate on Rule for Bill to Combat Islamophobia Worldwide
WASHINGTON, DC — On the House Floor today, House Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) opened debate on the rule for H.R. 5665, the Combating International Islamophobia Act. The bill would combat the rise of Islamophobia worldwide through the creation of a special envoy that will also help policymakers better understand this interconnected, global problem.
The UN Special Rapporteur on religious freedom and belief has said that cases of discrimination and hatred towards Muslims has risen to “epidemic proportions” around the globe. According to statistics released by the Department of Justice, there were 110 anti-Muslim incidents in America last year, as well as an additional 89 hate crimes against Sikhs who are often wrongly identified as Muslim.
Highlights from Chairman McGovern’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are included below. Video is available here.
“M. Speaker, we are here today at a time when anti-Muslim hatred has risen to epidemic proportions. That’s not my opinion. That’s according to the UN Special Rapporteur on religious freedom and belief….
“We see it all around the world: In China, as the government there commits atrocities against the Uyghurs; in Sri Lanka, where its president silences dissenting voices; in India, as government-led crackdowns leave entire neighborhoods virtually empty; in Hungary, where anti-Muslim sentiment continues to build; and unfortunately, M. Speaker, I could go on, all around the globe…
“A rising tide of hostility, violence, and discrimination that we, the government of the United States, must call out and condemn. To stand foursquare for human rights, as we have always done, demands nothing less.
“I’m also proud to announce today that we have reached a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act that will allow us to move quickly to get this bill through Congress and to the president. Because this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s a human rights issue – and America must lead.
“And just as we hold other nations to account, we must hold ourselves to account, too. Because the United States is not immune to these trends.
“The Council on American-Islamic Relations has documented over 500 complaints of anti-Muslim bias nationwide in just the first half of this year. That includes things like hate crimes, harassment, school bullying, and anti-mosque violence.
“Sadly, this uptick is part of a larger trend. A poll conducted by the AP and released this year ahead of the anniversary of 9/11 found that 53 percent of Americans have unfavorable views toward Islam. This is the reality of what is happening in America today.
“And to be honest, M. Speaker, we have even heard disturbing rhetoric from some right here in this institution. A Member of this House has told a completely fabricated story again and again that implies a Muslim colleague is a terrorist…just because they are Muslim…
“Two decades ago, it was a Republican president, George W. Bush, that told the world, quote, ‘America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality.’
Today, it is a Republican Congressman who made headlines for comments that disrespect not only Congresswoman Omar and fellow Muslim Members, but is a stain on this entire institution…
“I think this House is better than the worst actions of a few here. I think the government of the United States can still stand for human rights, here and around the globe. And this rule and the underlying resolution is our chance to show it.
“Let’s pass this measure so we can we bring the full weight of our nation in encouraging other nations to also confront and condemn the growing stain of islamophobia.”
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