Caucus and Over 500 Elected Officials Speak Out Against Anti-Muslim Bigotry


Officials release an open letter as part of a campaign to fight back against the xenophobia, bigotry, and anti-Muslim hate that has escalated dramatically during the 2016 Presidential election.


The New York City Council Progressive Caucus has joined more than 500 elected officials from across the country in releasing an open letter condemning bigotry, Islamaphobia and pledging to support Muslim and immigrant communities who have come under attack. Signers vowed to take action to ensure that the Constitutional rights of all members of their districts are protected and that all residents are welcomed as full members of our community. The letter was signed by mayors, and state and local legislators including Caucus members and a total of 33 NYC Council Members.


Last year, 78 Mosques were targeted for vandalism, the highest number since they started recording these incidences since 2009. A Southern Poverty Law Center study found that while in 2014 overall hate crimes were down across the country, those against Muslims saw a 14 percent increase. Similarly, the Council on American–Islamic Relations attests that in 2015 Islamophobia has increased across the country five times higher than it did after September 11th.


With these considerations, this fall, cities around the country will pass resolutions pledging to combat hatred and anti-Muslim bigotry including New York City Council Res. 1230 sponsored by Council Member I. Daneek Miller, sole Muslim representative in the Council, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration, and Council Member Brad Lander, Board Member of Local Progress.


Council Member I. Daneek Miller said, “New York was founded by people seeking religious freedom and its elected body has an obligation to uphold those ideals. With the increased attacks on Muslims and Islamophobia rising across the country, it is important we continue to stand together against hate, and I am proud to have introduce Resolution 1230 declaring support for Muslim communities across the City. The New York City Council has recognized Muslims who have given back to their communities and ensured youth practicing our faith do not have to choose between going to Mosque and missing school during the Eid holidays. This is progress we can all be proud of and I would like to thank my colleagues in New York and across the country for their continued support.


“In NYC's pluralistic society we must be especially vigilant and vocal in our positive affirmation of the values that represent our communities. Islamophobia must be whole heartedly condemned in any circumstance. I personally abhor prejudice and violence, and I commit myself to protecting the rights of everyone to live in security and peace,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.


“This election cycle, we’ve seen unprecedented levels of bigotry in our national conversation and an increasing acceptance of anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant rhetoric. It is our shared responsibility to speak out against such hate,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Through Local Progress, an organization I’m proud to serve on the board of, elected officials across the country are uniting together to say that we refuse to accept intolerance, prejudice, and fear as a political tactic. We are determined to do our part to enrich the diversity and tolerance of our city. In the face of toxic xenophobia, racist rhetoric, a rise in hate crimes and anti-Muslim violence— together we can demonstrate the power of solidarity in creating positive social change.”


"There is no place for bigotry and hatred toward Muslims or any other religious group or race in New York City," said Council Member Ben Kallos, Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair. "We must do everything in our power to fight racism wherever we see it in our City. New York City's reputation as this country's largest melting pot must go on without instances of discrimination and hate."


"Here in Queens, we know that our diversity makes us stronger," said City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. "We will not tolerate hateful, bigoted, or xenophobic rhetoric against Muslims. Instead, we will stand together as neighbors and friends and denounce anyone who tries to divide us."


“The North Shore of Staten Island is the most diverse council district in the city, with large communities from all corners of the globe and all faith groups. In light of the xenophobic, anti-Muslim rhetoric that has entered our national discourse, I proudly join hundreds of leaders across the country in condemning this bigotry,” said Council Member Debi Rose. “By signing this letter, I want all of my constituents to know that, regardless of their faith or national origin, I value the contributions they make to the North Shore of Staten Island.”


"We have entered a troubling time in America; one of regression in our national discourse, and an opening of old wounds by too many who seek division based on prejudice and intolerance," said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. "But in these trying times, those of us who have struggled through these battles to arrive at points of greater understanding and respect for one another will not allow hate to triumph. We will continue to stand strong, with love and tolerance as our tools, resolute in our constant pursuit of justice in all its forms."


“Religious freedom is a founding principle of our democracy,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “The intolerant fail to recognize that our diversity makes us stronger as a nation. We are united not by the color of our skin or our religion, but by an adherence to the shared belief in our inherent right to live and express ourselves freely.”


“Vitriolic and racist language, against Muslims or other religious or minority groups, have no place in our democracy or any arena in American society. We must always speak out and stand up against it and seek to unite communities,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres.


This action was coordinated by Local Progress, a network of progressive local elected officials from around the country, and the Young Elected Officials Network Action, a program of People For the American Way that provides a network of support to young progressive leaders.