US announces ‘Islamophobia strategy’
President Joe Biden’s administration will develop a strategy to combat Islamophobia in the US, the White House said on Thursday, after reports of widespread discontent among American Muslims over Washington’s support for Israel.
“President Biden ran for office to restore the soul of our nation. He is unequivocal: There is no place for hate in America against anyone. Period,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “For too long, Muslims in America, and those perceived to be Muslim, such as Arabs and Sikhs, have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents.”
Developing the “comprehensive and detailed plan” to protect “Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim” for any reason from “discrimination, hate, bigotry, and violence” will be a joint project of the Domestic Policy Council (DPC) and the National Security Council, in partnership with local communities, a White House official told CNN.
The NSC is led by Jake Sullivan, who penned an article for Foreign Affairs Magazine just before the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, describing the Middle East as “quieter than it has been for decades.”
In charge of the DPC is Neera Tanden, a longtime associate of Democratic strategist and former chair of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, John Podesta. Biden originally wanted to appoint the latter head of the Office of Management and Budget, but faced opposition in the Senate.
The announcement on combatting Islamophobia came after Biden’s trip to Minnesota, where he met with several Muslim activists – including Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former deputy chairman of the Democratic Party. Ahead of the visit, a coalition of Muslim activists in Minnesota demanded that Biden call for a ceasefire in Gaza or face losing some 50,000 votes in the Midwestern state.
“They’ve taken us for granted,” Jaylani Hussein, a Muslim community organizer in Minnesota, told HuffPost.
“What’s happening is betrayal,” said Hassan Abdel Salam, a human rights professor in Minneapolis.
Muslims boycotting elections or switching sides could cost Biden next year in the key swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, according to HuffPost. Polls have shown a sharp drop in approval for Biden and the Democrats in general among the Muslim constituency in recent weeks. Many Muslim Democrats are now saying they won’t support Biden’s re-election or down-ballot candidates, in disapproval of the White House’s Israel strategy.
Biden has declared full support for Israel’s war on Gaza following the October 7 incursion by Hamas, despite repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and growing complaints about Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of civilians.