In these painful times, I hope you and your loved ones are sharing care and support, however you’re able to, and that you’re well enough. I joined Muslim Advocates as its new legal director on October 2. Just days later, we witnessed the violent attacks by Hamas and the beginnings of the horrors still unfolding in Gaza. Our hearts are heavy with the weight of everything that’s happening: the unfolding genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and the backlash that people in the U.S. are facing for speaking up in solidarity with Palestinians or simply for being Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. It’s critical to condemn these injustices and to work in solidarity with the people most impacted by them. As the newest arrival to the team at Muslim Advocates, I’m proud to tell you that we are doing both.
For the first time in our organization’s history, we’ve made a public statement in solidarity with the movement for justice in Palestine. We also have signed a host of multi-organizational advocacy letters—including one from U.S.-based advocacy organizations and individual advocates with over 600 signatories—addressing U.S. politicians, reiterating our solidarity, and raising a variety of shared concerns and demands. As a social justice organization, it is our role to be outspoken in the face of brutality.
Young student voices are central to the U.S. movement for justice in Palestine and are vulnerable to chilling, discriminatory, punitive, and dangerous targeting—including governmental targeting. Powerful government actors are spewing violent rhetoric and already implementing policies and practices aimed squarely at students speaking out in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
We’ve been taking a number of critical steps to understand and support student needs right now.
- Beltway and Agency-Level Engagement: We’ve met with the leadership of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships within the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to make a variety of recommendations to them about statements that DOE could make and guidance it could issue to protect students in this critical time. And we’re strategically engaging federal legislators on the movement for justice for Palestine and its domestic impacts here in the U.S.
- Advocacy on Campuses: We’ve met with Muslim professors, programming staff, and administrators from colleges and universities around the country to understand their students’ needs and concerns in the current climate, as well as their own.
- Providing Training and Legal Expertise: We’ve provided Know Your Rights trainings to students and masjid congregants on issues spanning free speech and discrimination, including in parts of the country that are underserved by legal-advocacy organizations.
- Coalition Building and Related Advocacy: We’ve uplifted Palestinian solidarity work, including the centrality of students within it, in collaboration with grassroots and advocacy organizations that work with Muslim communities in the U.S. We’re also connecting with myriad partners to develop urgent, collaborative advocacy that protects students, Muslims, and Muslim-identified people from targeting by federal law enforcement agencies.
From our nearly 20 years of advocacy—including our work following the post-9/11 backlash and the Muslim Ban crisis—Muslim Advocates knows what it takes to build power, support students and other movement leaders, and fight against discriminatory surveillance and law enforcement targeting. In this critical time, we can’t say enough how humbled and grateful we are for your partnership and to be working with cherished allies across the U.S. who are demanding justice and wellbeing for our communities.
A note about our upcoming event: We sincerely believe that strength and togetherness are found in numbers. With that in mind, we’re looking forward to Common Voices, Collective Action on November 1, 2023, in which we’ll come together with supporters like you for art, music, and discourse that uplifts the grief and love Muslim communities are experiencing and that are infusing the movement for justice in Palestine.