• Aslam Abdullah

US Congress pass Combatting International Islamophobia ACT


On December 14, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives approved with 219-212 votes Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky's Combating International Islamophobia Act (H.R. 5665). All Republicans except one opposed it. Ilhan Omar and her colleagues created history and the US warned Islamophobes all over the world that they are under its watch.

Addressing the Congress, Rep Ilhan Omar said: Some cynics would rather see us divided on racial, ethnic, gender, and religious lines. But as Americans, we should stand united against all forms of bigotry. Congress members referred to human rights violations of Muslims in India, Myanmar, and China expressly. It is a significant achievement of Ilhan Omar and her colleagues when the pro-Israeli lobby and the supporters of the Hindu national organizations, RSS and B.J.P., with the help of right-wing Christian organizations, are vowing to remove her in 2022 mid-term elections..

The Combating International Islamophobia Act establishes a particular envoy office at the U.S. State Department to monitor and combat international Islamophobia.

The Office shall monitor and combat Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement in foreign countries. The Bill establishes the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Islamophobia, who shall head the Office.

The Bill also requires specific existing annual reports to Congress about human rights and religious freedom in foreign countries to include information about Islamophobia.

It would include information about

(1) acts of physical violence or harassment of Muslim people,

(2) instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that attempt to justify or promote hatred or incite violence against Muslim people, and

(3) actions taken by a country's government to respond to such acts. The Office shall coordinate and assist in preparing these portions of the reports.

During the Act's floor debate, the Biden-Harris Administration expressed solidarity with the Act.

Praising the passage of the bill, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement :

“I’m pleased that the House has passed a bill to combat Islamophobia by creating a special envoy for that purpose at the State Department. I want to thank Rep. Omar, Rep. Schakowsky, and its other sponsors for introducing and championing this legislation. “We have seen a dangerous rise in Islamophobia and violence against Muslim Americans in our country and around the world in recent years, particularly since September 11, 2001. No one should have to live in fear because of one’s religion – today, however, the threat of Islamophobic violence has become a daily reality for Muslim Americans. Just as we have a special envoy to address antisemitism, it is important that we take this step today to continue our commitment to addressing the scourge of religious intolerance here at home and around the world. “House Democrats will not sit silently in the face of religious bigotry. It is shameful that Republicans would not stand with us to affirm this core American value, which ought to be an easy and straightforward objective.”

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also introduced the Combating International Islamophobia Act in the Senate. It is the Senate companion to a House bill introduced by Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-9).

"We've witnessed in recent years an alarming rise in Islamophobia both in the United States and globally that has threatened the religious freedom, wellbeing, and lives of Muslims," said Sen. Booker. "Establishing a Special Envoy at the State Department is an important step that we should take to develop a comprehensive plan to reverse this trend and position the U.S. as a global leader in combating hate."

"For over a decade, we have seen a rise in Islamophobia around the country and around the world. The United States should be a global leader in fighting such intolerance. So I am proud today to be joining my Senate colleagues in introducing the Combating International Islamophobia Act. This bill would elevate our commitment to freedom of religion and further protect the rights of Muslims everywhere," said Senator Cardin, who serves as the Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the 57-nation Organization Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.


Ilhan and her colleague presented the draft in Congress on October 21, 2021

Here is the Act in its entirety

Ms. Omar (for herself, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Carson, Ms. Tlaib, Mr. Kim of New Jersey, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Mr. Rush, Ms. Bass, Ms. Jackson Lee, Mrs. Watson Coleman, Mr. Green of Texas, Mr. Grijalva, Mrs. Dingell, Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, Ms. Jacobs of California, Ms. Newman, Mr. Lowenthal, Ms. Norton, Mr. García of Illinois, Mr. Sires, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Dean, Ms. Eshoo, Mr. Correa, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Payne, Mr. Jones, Mr. Bowman, Mr. Phillips, Mr. McGovern, Ms. Williams of Georgia, Ms. Pressley, and Mr. Pascrell) introduced the following Bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs on December 13, 2021

Additional sponsors: Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Castro of Texas, Mr. Meeks, Ms. Sánchez, Mr. Quigley, Mr. Raskin, Mr. Evans, Mrs. Lawrence, Mr. Trone, Mr. Blumenauer, Mr. Sarbanes, Ms. Chu, Mr. Ruppersberger, Mr. Malinowski, Ms. Wild, Mr. Schneider, Mr. Lieu, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Brown of Maryland, Ms. McCollum, Ms. Johnson of Texas, Ms. DeGette, and Mr. Neguse

December 13, 2021

Reported with an amendment, committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed

A BILL

To establish in the Department of State the Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the "Combating International Islamophobia Act".

S.E.C. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF OFFICE TO MONITOR AND COMBAT ISLAMOPHOBIA.

Title 1 of the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 (22 U.S.C. 2651a et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

"S.E.C. 64. MONITORING AND COMBATING ISLAMOPHOBIA.

"(a) Office To Monitor And Combat Islamophobia.—

"(1) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Secretary of State shall establish within the Department of State an Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia (in this section referred to as the 'Office').

"(2) HEAD OF OFFICE.—

"(A) SPECIAL ENVOY FOR MONITORING AND COMBATING ISLAMOPHOBIA.—The head of the Office shall be the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Islamophobia (in this section referred to as the 'Special Envoy').

"(B) APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL ENVOY.—The Secretary of State President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint the Special Envoy. If the Secretary President determines that such is appropriate, the Secretary President may appoint the Special Envoy from among officers and employees of the Department of State. The Secretary of State may allow such officer or employee to retain the position (and the responsibilities associated with such position) held by such officer or employee prior to such appointment.

"(b) Purpose Of Office.—Upon establishment, the Office shall assume primary responsibility for the following:

"(1) Monitoring and combating acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement that occur in foreign countries.

"(2) Coordinating and assisting in the preparation of that portion of the reports required by paragraph (9) of section 116(d) and subsection (k) of section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d) and 2304) relating to an assessment and description of the nature and extent of acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement.

"(3) Coordinating and assisting in the preparation of that portion of the report required by clause (viii) of section 102(b)(1)(A) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1)(A)) relating to an assessment and description of the nature and extent of acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement.

"(c) Consultations.—The Special Envoy shall consult with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations and multilateral organizations and institutions, as the Special Envoy considers appropriate, to carry out this section.".

S.E.C. 3. INCLUSION IN DEPARTMENT OF STATE ANNUAL REPORTS OF INFORMATION CONCERNING ACTS OF ISLAMOPHOBIA IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES.

(a) Inclusion In Annual Country Reports On Human Rights Practices.—The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.) is amended—

(1) in section 116(d) (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d))—

(A) by redesignating paragraphs (9), (10), (11), and (12), as paragraphs (10), (11), (12), and (13), respectively; and

(B) by inserting after paragraph (8) the following new paragraph:

"(9) wherever applicable, a description of the nature and extent of acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement that occur during the preceding year, including descriptions of—

"(A) acts of physical violence against, or harassment of, Muslim people, and acts of violence against, or vandalism of, Muslim community institutions, including schools, mosques, and cemeteries;

"(B) instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred or incite acts of violence against Muslim people;

"(C) the actions, if any, taken by the government of the country to respond to such violence and attacks or to eliminate such propaganda or incitement;

"(D) the actions taken by such government to enact and enforce laws relating to the protection of the right to religious freedom of Muslim people; and;

"(E) the efforts of such government to promote anti-bias and tolerance education;"; and; and

"(F)any instances of forced labor, reeducation, or the presence of concentration camps, such as those targeting the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Province of the People's Republic of China;

(2) in section 502B (22 U.S.C. 2304), by—

(A) redesignating the second subsection (i) (relating to child marriage status) as subsection (j); and

(B) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

"(k) Information Concerning Acts Of Islamophobia In Foreign Countries.—The report required by subsection (b) shall include, wherever applicable, a description of the nature and extent of acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement that occur during the preceding year, including descriptions of—

"(1) acts of physical violence against, or harassment of, Muslim people, and acts of violence against, or vandalism of, Muslim community institutions, including schools, mosques, and cemeteries;

"(2) instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred or incite acts of violence against Muslim people;

"(3) the actions, if any, taken by the government of the country to respond to such violence and attacks or to eliminate such propaganda or incitement;

"(4) the actions taken by such government to enact and enforce laws relating to the protection of the right to religious freedom of Muslim people; and;

"(5) the efforts of such government to promote anti-bias and tolerance education.; and

"(6) any instances of forced labor, reeducation, or the presence of concentration camps, such as those targeting the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Province of the People's Republic of China.".

(b) Inclusion In Annual Report On International Religious Freedom.—Section 102(b)(1)(A) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1)(A)) is amended—

(1) in clause (vi), by striking "and" at the end;

(2) in clause (vii)(II), by striking the period at the end and inserting "; and"; and

(3) by adding at the end the following new clause:

"(viii) wherever applicable, an assessment and description of the nature and extent of acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement that occur in that country during the preceding the year, including—

"(I) acts of physical violence against, or harassment of, Muslim people, acts of violence against, or vandalism of, Muslim community institutions, instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment media that incite such acts, and statements and actions relating thereto; and;

"(II) the actions taken by the government of that country to respond to such violence and attacks or to eliminate such propaganda or incitement, to enact and enforce laws relating to the protection of the right to religious freedom of Muslims, and to promote anti-bias and tolerance education.; and

"(III) any instances of forced labor, reeducation, or the presence of concentration camps, such as those targeting the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Province of the People's Republic of China.".

(c) Effective Date Of Inclusions.—The amendments made by subsections (a) and (b) shall apply beginning with the first reports required under sections 116(d) and 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n and 2304) and section 102(b)(1)(A) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6312(b)(1)(A)) that are submitted after the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

S.E.C. 4. PROHIBITION.

No funds made available pursuant to this Act or an amendment made by this Act may be used to promote or endorse a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (B.D.S.) movement ideology or used to promote or endorse a Muslim ban, such as the one instituted by former President Trump.

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