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Asian Civil Rights Groups Condemn Islamophobic Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing

July 5, 2016 News

In response to this week’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts hearing, Asian Americans Advancing Justice submitted the following statement: Asian Americans Advancing Justice writes to express our deep concern over the focus of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts’ “Willful Blindness: Consequences of Agency Efforts to Deemphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism” hearing.

In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Asian Americans Advancing Justice condemned the appalling violence and stood with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and questioning (LGBTQIQ) communities. We also stood with Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian American (AMEMSA) communities who were immediately profiled and demonized en masse following the shooting, which was particularly degrading to community members standing at the intersection of LGBTQIQ and AMEMSA identities. Justice, logic, and research state that an act of violence by one person cannot and should not be attributed to an entire community.

The hearing scheduled for today flies in the face of that reason. Indeed, it furthers a dangerously broad and false correlation of violence and terrorism to Islam and AMEMSA communities. Perpetrators of violent extremism are not limited to any one religious, ethnic, or societal profile. This hearing fails to engage in an effective discussion of the range of victims and various sources of violence and domestic terrorism.

As organizations rooted in five major U.S. cities representing the interests of Asian and Pacific Islanders and other marginalized communities in the U.S., we draw lessons from the Chinese Exclusion Act and the mass incarceration of over 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during WWII falsely deemed national security threats based solely on their race. Given this shameful historical legacy, we cannot stand behind efforts that render American Muslims inherently suspect. Nor can we support narratives that perpetuate Islamophobic stereotypes.

Given the alarming rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, we are deeply concerned that this hearing will increase bias against AMEMSA communities. This will only further motivate backlash and hate rather than furthering our safety. Instead of finding a solution to mass violence, this hearing will almost certainly engender it. We therefore urge this Committee to truly examine its motivations and recognize that no solution to mass violence can be found by scapegoating already-marginalized communities. The Committee should reject religious and racial profiling and not perpetuate harmful stereotypes. As leaders of this country you have an obligation to the above and a duty to protect all.