House

Omar leads lawmakers in calling for US envoy to combat Islamophobia

Greg Nash

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and other Democratic lawmakers have signed onto a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging him to appoint a special envoy tasked with monitoring and combatting Islamophobia.

In the letter sent Tuesday, Omar and two dozen other lawmakers cited the spike in Islamophobia seen in recent years as well as the “persecution of Muslims manifesting itself around the world.”

The lawmakers also pointed to a recent annual report released by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in which the office identified multiple countries with “patterns of mistreatment and human rights violations against either their entire Muslim populations or particular sects of Muslims.” 

“In addition to state-sponsored policies of Islamophobia, we have seen a disturbing rise in incidents of Islamophobic violence committed by individuals connected to larger transnational white supremacist networks, including but by no means limited to the mosque shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019 and the recent murder of a Muslim Canadian family in London, Ontario,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers went on to strongly urge Blinken to establish the new role dedicated to combatting Islamophobia, calling it “a genuinely global problem that the United States should tackle globally.”

They also called for the secretary “to specifically include anti-Muslim violence per se in next year’s annual human rights reports.”

“It is past time for the United States to stand firmly in favor of religious freedom for all, and to give the global problem of Islamophobia the attention and prioritization it deserves,” they added.

Twenty-five Democratic lawmakers signed onto the letter, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Debbie Dingell (Mich.), Judy Chu (Calif.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn).

CNN was first to report on the letter.

The letter comes shortly after news broke that President Biden would soon tap a State Department ambassador-at-large to head monitoring antisemitism. The news follows a surge in incidents targeting Jews and Jewish institutions seen in recent weeks amid increased tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.

Melissa Rogers, the executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, made the announcement during a national Jewish conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Weeks prior to the announcement, Blinken also told lawmakers in June that he anticipated a candidate committed to combatting antisemitism would be brought before the Senate “very soon.” 

The comments followed months after Congress elevated a top envoy within the State Department to an ambassador ranking with a similar function in January.

Tags Antony Blinken Debbie Dingell Ilhan Omar Joe Biden Judy Chu Karen Bass Rashida Tlaib Steve Cohen
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