A recent Washington Post op-ed reiterated an important issue in America today: Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court rules in the Muslim ban case, the United States still has a long way to go in combating Islamophobia.
Huma Yasin, a Muslim attorney, wrote about her family’s experience with hate crimes, how federal agencies target Muslims with surveillance more than other religious groups and portrayals of Muslims in the media, among other issues that marginalize the Muslim community.
“Muslims have been dehumanized and politicized since long before this executive order or this administration,” Yasin said. “It’s the natural outgrowth of a society that’s been fed a long-standing and toxic diet of Islamophobia.”
As someone who grew up with a Muslim background, that this is true. Before, during, and, I’m sure, after the Donald Trump presidency, Islamophobia has been and will remain an issue.
Of course, Trump’s Muslim ban is plain discrimination and a significant attack on religious freedom. That’s why Americans United and allies filed a friend-of-the-court brief before the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of people harmed by the ban, urging the high court to be on the right side of history and strike down the Muslim ban.
But it’s also important that we remember the Muslim Ban is not the only hurdle we need to overcome to make people of all religions feel welcome in our country. In her op-ed, Yasin cited how collective action – such as the protesters and lawyers who descended on airports around the country to advocate for immigrants and refugees after the first Muslim ban was issued – can be effective in combatting hate and Islamophobia.
“Even non-immigration attorneys like myself volunteered to keep a 24-hour legal presence in the airport until the first injunction allowed entry to visa holders hailing from the banned countries,” she wrote.
Unity can help overshadow the ignorance of some. Just recently, a man harassed a Muslim woman wearing the niqab (a type of veil worn by some Muslim women) in a California coffee shop, telling her, “I don’t like your religion.” In this instance of harassment, customers defended the Muslim woman and employees refused to serve the man.
We need to continue taking action when we see discrimination, Yasin emphasized.
“When people come together and demand change, it is possible. When individuals together as a society examine conscious and unconscious biases regarding Muslims and Islam, change is possible,” Yasin wrote. “Addressing the forms of Islamophobia that exist systemically can indeed dismantle them.”
We agree because our country is at its best when people of all religions feel welcome here. For people of all faiths and for nonbeliers – religious freedom means that the law treats everyone equally regardless of faith.
That also means that no one should face discrimination, feel unsafe or endure harassment because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. At Americans United, we will continue to advocate for equality for all religious and nonreligious groups. We welcome people of all faiths and none to join us.