Washington, D.C. | www.mpac.org | May 4, 2023 — Earlier this week, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati and M. Faiyaz Hussain, MPAC’s Senior Advisor for Strategy, Policy, and Programs attended a Listening Session at the White House alongside other American Muslim Coalition community leaders to offer strategies on how to counter anti-Muslim animus in the United States at both the governmental and societal levels.
Senior Biden-Harris administration officials present at the listening session included: Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, White House Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice, Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Joshua Geltzer, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain, and Office of Public Engagement Director Stephen Benjamin. Also present were numerous other government officials and staff including President Biden’s newly appointed Muslim Liaison, Mazen Basrawi.
This meeting was a follow-up to the “United We Stand” summit held at the White House in September 2022, and is part of the efforts underway by the Administration’s recently announced Inter-Agency Policy Council (“IPC”) to combat antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of discrimination within the United States. For a readout of the White House’s statement of this meeting, click here.
The American Muslim community leaders began the session with three overarching asks:
Effectively countering Islamophobia at all levels is a long-standing pillar of MPAC’s work. Salam began his remarks by quoting Justice Sonya Sotomayor who in her dissenting opinion to the enactment of the Muslim Ban stated: “As here, the government invoked an ill-defined national security threat to justify an exclusionary policy of sweeping proportions. [An] exclusion . . . rooted in dangerous stereotypes about, inter alia, a particular group’s supposed inability to assimilate and desire to harm the United States.” Salam stressed that it was critically important for the government at its highest levels to change this incorrect framing which remains at the root of most of its discriminatory policies against American Muslims.
In addition, MPAC requested that President Biden use the power of his office to directly address the false conspiracy theories perpetuated by white supremacists emboldened by Trump’s vitriol over the past many years, that white Americans in the United States are being replaced by minority communities. Salam noted that the same hateful ideologies leading to hate crimes against our communities and our houses of worship also fuel antisemitic, anti-Black, and other forms of hate in our country. As such, MPAC emphasized the critical need for President Biden to counter these destructive theories head on, by acknowledging and publicly promoting the ways in which religious and ethnic minorities, including Muslim, Black, Jewish, Sikh, Hispanic, Hindu, and Asian Americans are enriching America.
At a societal level, Salam shared MPAC’s work engaging with Evangelical Christian communities across the country to counter false narratives and Islamophobic tropes about American Muslims, and how our efforts have a significant impact in changing the hearts and minds of far-flung communities across the country. In this regard, Salam called for a public-private partnership to promote such programs across the United States as polls have shown that one of the most effective ways to counter Islamophobia and other forms of hate is when communities that are isolated from each other actually get to know one another in a sustained and meaningful way.
MPAC is looking forward to our continued engagement with the White House and serving alongside our partner American Muslim civil rights organizations on this critically important IPC initiative to combat hate that affects all of our impacted communities.