Omar introduces bill to fight ‘international Islamophobia’

The eight-page bill calls on the State Department to create its own "Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia."

Rep. Ilhan Omar speaks with Bernie Sanders supporters at a campaign office in Las Vegas in February 2020. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Rep. Ilhan Omar is sponsoring a bill that seeks to address the alleged “rise in incidents of Islamophobia worldwide.”

Omar and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois jointly introduced the “Combating International Islamophobia Act” before the House of Representatives, according to a Thursday news release.

The eight-page bill calls on the State Department to create its own “Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia,” the head of which will be a “Special Envoy” appointed by the secretary of state.

The bill also requires the State Department to include in its yearly Country Reports on Human Rights Practices a “description of the nature and extent of acts of Islamophobia and Islamophobic incitement that occur during the preceding year.”

In addition to reporting violence, harassment, and propaganda against Muslims, the description must also touch on the various efforts of foreign governments to “promote anti-bias and tolerance education.”

Both Omar and Schakowsky made statements on the bill Thursday.

“We are seeing a rise in Islamophobia in nearly every corner of the globe,” Omar claimed. “As part of our commitment to international religious freedom and human rights, we must recognize Islamophobia and do all we can to eradicate it.”

“For over a decade we have seen increasing incidents of violent Islamophobia both in the U.S. and worldwide — from the genocide of the Rohingya in Burman, and Uyghurs in China, to the attacks on Muslim refugees in Canada and New Zealand,” Schakowsky added. “It is past time for the U.S. to establish a comprehensive plan for combating this hatred worldwide.”

This isn’t the first action Omar has taken to help fight “Islamophobia.” Just earlier this week she endorsed an open letter that attacked the Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board for “equating Muslims with terrorism.”

“I have great respect for journalists (including many reporters at the Star Tribune). But I will not stand by while an (overwhelmingly white and male) editorial board continues to use divide and conquer tactics against communities of color in our city,” she tweeted.

The open letter asks for signatures and calls on the Star Tribune to “increase the diversity” of its editorial board with “black, Muslim, and female voices” in particular, and to immediately change its use of language to avoid “loaded, racist, or Islamophobic” terms.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.