Move to Amend Statement on Islamophobia: #WeStandWithIlhanOmar

July 19, 2019

At a rally this week, the President’s tirade against Representative Ilhan Omar was met with vicious chants of “send her back.” The violence and danger has gone too far to stay silent. 

Move to Amend stands in solidarity with the courageous Congresswomen currently under attack by those in power, most notably the President, in a blatant display this week, and members of Congress -- including members of her own party -- more passively in recent months with harmful rhetoric and perspective.

In particular, we lift up Representative Ilhan Omar, the first freshman in the 116th Congress to cosponsor our We the People Amendment, and all Muslims in the U.S. and abroad who are being targeted in this recent and sharp rise in Islamophobia and blatant racism, fueled by the Trump administration and its allies worldwide.

Move to Amend recognizes that it is not enough to simply renounce acts of white supremacy. Specifically, our coalition recognizes that the term “Islamophobia” must be explicitly defined to avoid perpetuating white supremacy and its connection with rising fascism in the US and around the globe.  

So what does it mean to say we renounce Islamophobia? What is Islamophobia?

Islamophobia is the direct or indirect discrimination, oppression and subjugation of Muslims or anyone who fits the Western notion of who looks “Middle Eastern.”  Islamophobia can take the form of the violence we saw at Christchurch, the hijab bans in France, the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban, or in the hatred we see levied against people who are not even Muslim but fit under the Western notion of Middle Eastern (Sikhs, for example, fall prey to Islamophobic attacks, despite not being Muslim, as well as Jews and Christians of Middle Eastern descent). It can even be seen in the recent attacks on synagogues, which were fueled by a belief that Jewish people are secretly trying to destroy the fabric of America by promoting immigration from Muslims and other non-whites.

Acts of Islamophobia are not just perpetuated by overtly racist individuals, violent white supremacists, or right wing extremists. Certain kinds of rhetoric can also be acts of Islamophobia. For example, the intentional misrepresentation of Ilhan Omar’s comments about AIPAC, Israel and 9/11 have left her and other Muslims vulnerable to a wave of blatantly Islamophobic attacks (and perpetuate a rhetoric that plays into the dangerous worldview that has radicalized far-right terrorists such as the Christchurch shooter). It can also be perpetuated with tropes about the “incompatibility” of Muslim culture with Western, or “Judeo-Christian” culture - which includes a presumed hatred for both Christianity and Judaism, that is inherently part of their worldview by virtue of being Muslim, whether they admit it or not.

Selective solidarity is also an issue when we support Muslims when they are attacked violently while ignoring the oppression of other Muslims. For example, standing in support of the victims of Christchurch while ignoring the genocide of the Palestinian people can be argued as an act of perpetuating Islamophobia.  We cannot pick and choose the “right kind” of Muslim to stand with. We should also be standing with Muslim victims of violence and genocide no matter what.

It is important to be clear that Representative Omar is being targeted not only because she is a young Black Muslim-American woman in Congress (which would be enough on its own, as anti-Blackness, misogyny and ageism are all contributing factors) who was not born in the United States. She also courageously speaks truth to power regarding the influence of foreign governments like Israel and Saudi Arabia over our political system, and our financial support of their genocidal oppression of the Palestinian and Yemeni people.

We can’t advocate for democracy and not stand for human rights - which is why we are making this statement. Islamophobia is a form of white supremacy that affects all Muslims, as well as people who Western societies would profile as “Middle Eastern.”  It can be blatant with acts of violence, xenophobia, and hate speech such as the chanting that the President incited or passive with harmful rhetoric and perspective. Move to Amend actively condemns all forms of Islamophobia as we condemn all forms of white supremacy.