We’ve proven that we can make gains and we can win. Now we have to keep it going.
Washington, DC – One year into the Trump administration and in advance of the Muslim ban anniversary, groups like Muslim Advocates are proving that, even in the most dire of circumstances, American Muslims can defend their rights to live, work, study, worship, and travel free from discrimination.
According to Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, “There is little consistency or stability in the Trump era, but there is a clear theme throughout the past year: resilience. Each time the administration has proposed or enacted a hate-fueled policy, we have confronted it in the in the courts and in the hearts and minds of Americans, and we can win.
“We have proven the strength of our coalition. We will remain united, prepared, and fired up. We have three more years ahead of us, and we will not rest.”
In the past year, Muslim Advocates:
Filed more lawsuits in the last year than in all of our previous years combined, including:
- Filed seven lawsuits challenging the Muslim ban and its implementation, including the first major lawsuit against Muslim ban 3.0, Iranian Alliances Across Borders v. Trump; and a suit that ordered the State Department to turn over critically important reports about the development and creation process of Muslim Ban 3.0.
- A defamation lawsuit against The Daily Stormer and its founder Andrew Anglin on behalf of Dean Obeidallah, an American Muslim comedian and political commentator. The lawsuit was filed in response to a defamatory post, published by The Daily Stormer, that falsely asserted that Dean Obeidallah was the “mastermind” behind the bombing of a concert in Manchester, UK this past spring. Read more about the lawsuit here.
- A suit on behalf of the Islamic Center of Culpeper (ICC), which was wrongfully denied a permit to build its mosque in Culpeper, Virginia. This suit led to a settlement from the county allowing the ICC to build its mosque.
Held corporations accountable for their roles in promoting anti-Muslim bigotry:
- For months, Muslim Advocates issued calls for Twitter and Facebook to combat the use of their platforms to promote hate and bigotry. In December, Twitter updated its policies and deleted the hate-ridden accounts of Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, and several other Britain First members.
- We joined with 18 other major civil rights organizations to call on Facebook to meaningfully address the hate speech and bigotry that thrives on its platform. Click here to read more.
- We joined with others to pressure the CEO of Uber to be the first to step down from President Trump’s business council after the Muslim ban went into effect. This first defection helped pave the way for corporations to step down because of the Paris Climate Accord and the President’s response to Charlottesville and the eventual dissolution of all of the Trump business councils.
- We launched #NoRoomForHate, a digital campaign, to pressure Marriott International to cancel their hosting of the annual ACT for America convention – the largest anti-Muslim gathering in the country. While the Marriott still hosted the hate-convention, we, alongside allies across the board, pressured the CEO of Marriott to publicly address the controversy and garnered widespread national news coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Fortune, Slate, Travel Weekly, Asian American News, Huffington Post, UK Independent, LA Times, Quartz, Associated Press, Travel Pulse and Newsweek.
Made clear to the nation that anti-Muslim hate is not the “new normal” in public life:
- Our #EvictTheBigots campaign helped lead to the stepping down of virulently anti-Muslim officials like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka and helped torpedo the nomination of army secretary nominee Mark Green. We believe this work has sent a clear message that vocal anti-Muslim bigotry is unacceptable for a federal appointment and has led to the stepping down of Rev. Jamie Johnson, head of community outreach for the Department of Homeland Security, and Tim Kelly, a nominee for Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education at the Department of Education and to a public apology from a nominee for ambassador to the Netherlands, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra.
- When the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the country planned a series of marches on Ramadan, we helped to organize over 100 local and national advocates to speak out, urge their mayors to condemn bigotry, and to hold counter-events that showed unity in the face of hate.
Equipped American Muslims to protect their rights:
- We hosted a nationwide panel series to discuss local and national ramifications of the Muslim ban, on the heels of the announcement of the third iteration. The panelists highlighted the changes in the latest iteration, its scope, and the ways in which it has already affected the local communities.
- We issued know-your-rights travel advisories and fact sheets in advance of the the Hajj and the winter travel season. Some of these materials were even available in seven different languages. After each of major change in the Muslim ban, we hosted nationwide community calls and immediate alerts to inform community members of their rights while traveling.
- In advance of Ramadan, we issued an arson awareness alert to mosques and Muslim charities nationwide with best practices and resources given the significant rise of mosque burnings, vandalism, and bombings of the past year.
We joined forces with diverse communities to fight back against anti-immigrant, anti-people of color, anti-woman, and anti-LGBTQ policies and bigotry:
- We filed an amicus brief, in conjunction with Columbia Law School’s Public Rights / Private Conscience Project, in Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case arguing that overly-broad accommodations of religious liberty, such as that requested by Masterpiece Cakeshop, undermine not just LGBT rights but religious liberty itself.
- Following President Trump’s hateful decision to bar transgender soldiers, Muslim Advocates joined the bipartisan chorus calling for a policy reversal.
- After President Trump’s ill-advised decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Muslim Advocates joined the bipartisan chorus calling on Congress to pass a clean Dream Act.
We grew to meet the demands put on our community:
- We grew to our largest staff in our organization’s 12-year history, with more on the way.
- We opened a new Washington, DC office in addition to our Oakland headquarters.
- We joined forces with the Dulles Justice Coalition to defend individuals and communities who are unjustly targeted and to push back against unlawful and discriminatory policies.
- We dramatically raised our profile, with hundreds of news clips and significant growth in our membership and social media following.
According to Khera, “our work has only begun. Muslim Advocates and our allies are in this for the long-haul to ensure that the voices of American Muslims are heard and that our rights are defended. We will not sit by and watch President Trump tread on the Constitution and our rights.”
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.