One Year Later: The State of the Muslim Ban and Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Discussion of Anti-Muslim Bans, Bigotry, Hate Crimes, Extremism and Media Trends

Washington, D.C. – Today, experts and advocates from Media Matters, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Muslim Advocates analyzed the past year in anti-Muslim bigotry – including the consequences of the Muslim ban, trends in the news coverage of American Muslims, and the rise of anti-Muslim hate crimes, hate groups and political rhetoric. The analysts reviewed these trends, as well as victories, setbacks and what they expect in the year-ahead. A recording of today’s call is available here.

Johnathan Smith, legal director, Muslim Advocates, said, “Although there have now been three different versions of President Trump’s Muslim ban, each has been infected with the same anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination.  This failed policy has not made our country safer, but it has torn families apart and lowered our standing in the world.  The Muslim ban violates fundamental American values and beliefs, and that’s why courts all across this country have rejected the Muslim ban.  And we remain confident that the Supreme Court will do so as well when it considers the issue later this year.”

Heidi Beirich, Intelligence Project director, Southern Poverty Law Center, said, “During his first year in office, President Trump has unabashedly provided moral oxygen for hate, both in the public square, as well as within the highest levels of power. This administration has brought out some of the most hateful elements in our society by sharing anti-Muslim sentiments, welcoming the hate group ACT for America to the White House, and passing harmful executive orders. Between 2015 and 2016, the SPLC documented a near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S. and in 2017 we helped expose the ties and role that the anti-Muslim movement has within the white nationalist, anti-immigrant and anti-government movements.”

Rebecca Lenn, director of external affairs, Media Matters, said, “Today, when covering the growing challenges faced by the Muslim community in the Trump era, it is absolutely vital that journalists and media outlets turn to more Muslim leaders to inform their coverage, divest in relying on hate groups for their reporting, and not be afraid to debunk and speak out against Trump and his surrogates’ anti-Muslim toxicity. It is also important that Silicon Valley continue to rein in the influence of alt-right, white supremacist harassers as well as fake news purveyors who threaten and demonize Muslims on major social media platforms.”

Madihha Ahussain, special counsel for anti-Muslim bigotry, Muslim Advocates, said, “Whether it has been Muslims walking on the street being called names and threatened with violence, Muslim women wearing headscarves being physically attacked, Muslim children in schools being bullied, or mosques around the country being vandalized, it feels as though no aspect of the community has been spared from the rise in anti-Muslim violence over the last year. According to an analysis by CNN, there has been an average of 9 mosque attacks per month from January through August of last year. And according to our own analysis, there were at least 165 hate crimes in 2017.”

Scott Simpson, public advocacy director, Muslim Advocates, said, “In 2017 and already in 2018, we’ve seen many state and local candidates attempt to use anti-Muslim rhetoric as a political tool. This was true in the marquis races of last year: the Alabama Senate race and also the Virginia governor’s race, where Ed Gillespie assertively sought the endorsement of an official with an anti-Muslim hate group. We’re currently tracking what we’re seeing in the 2018 races and have already seen anti-Muslim rhetoric at play in statewide races in Minnesota and South Dakota. We’re unfortunately  expecting to see more of this as these campaigns continue.  It’s vitally important to understand that this rhetoric leads to hate crimes, violence, and bigotry.”

Farhana Khera, executive director, Muslim Advocates, said, “For American Muslims, this year has been fraught with serious challenges: mosques have been vandalized, burned, and bombed; hate crimes against Muslims are at an all-time high, and the basic rights we all enjoy as Americans – to live freely from discrimination – have never felt more tenuous. But this has also been a year of hope. This year, American Muslims have proven that, when you stand up with your allies, you can win. The Muslim ban was blocked several times, anti-Muslim bigots are being forced to resign from their offices, and the bigotry of the administration has inspired a national wave of support for the pluralism and religious freedom this nation was built upon.”

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.