Florida activists push for commission on rise in Islamophobia

Florida activists push for commission on rise in Islamophobia

Florida activists push for commission on rise in Islamophobia

Muslim organizers say they’re getting reports of anti-Muslim incidents “faster than we can document”

As Florida lawmakers continue their push for a commission for what they say is a rise in antisemitism in the wake of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, some organizers say a commission is needed to protect the state’s Palestinian and Muslim communities.

Between Oct. 7 and Nov. 4, the Council on American-Islamic Relations received 1,283 requests for help and reports of bias across the country, compared to 406 complaints within an average 29-day period in 2022. Anti-Muslim discrimination had already been on the rise in 2020 and 2021, which organizers attribute to increased volatility in domestic politics at the time, though reports decreased in 2022.

Florida activists push for commission on rise in Islamophobia
ORLANDO, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 13: Students at the University of Central Florida hold a rally and march in support of Palestinians in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 13, 2023.

“This alleged violence and hate have absolutely no place in Florida,” said CAIR-Florida Media and Outreach Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz in a public statement following an anti-Muslim hate crime in the state. “We will make sure to follow up on this and any other case to ensure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent to deter others from engaging in this criminal anti-social behavior targeting anyone, regardless of their race or religion.”

Florida has seen a major uptick in anti-Muslim incidents. “We’re getting calls faster than we can document,” said Omar Saleh, CAIR-Florida lead attorney. “Here in Florida, our rate of calls, which we might get about 45 per month prior to Oct. 7, has since doubled, and a majority of those calls involve bullying of students because they are either Palestinian or support Palestine anywhere from the elementary stage all the way to the university stage. We’re seeing it most in employment.”

Florida activists push for commission on rise in Islamophobia
A girl wrapped in a Palestinian flag stands on a bollard as protestors advocating for the end of the siege on Gaza gather on the corner of University Avenue and 13th Street at the University of Florida in Gainesville on Oct. 25, 2023.

Florida lawmakers have largely ignored the rise in Islamophobic and anti-Palestinian incidents, often stoking the racism themselves and conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

In December, federal lawmakers introduced House Resolution 6578, also known as Commission to Study Acts of Antisemitism in the United States Act with the aim of targeting critics of Israel. Civil rights groups and organizers worry that HR 6578 would usher in a new era of McCarthyism during a pivotal time of resistance and legitimate criticism of the apartheid state of Israel and its violent occupation of Palestinian territories.

The Florida House resolution was found favorable by the State Affairs Committee and was released to the House calendar for a second reading.


Source: Prism Reports

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