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Largest US body of lawyers adopts resolution combating Islamophobia

The American Bar Association's resolution calls on Congress and UN to pass measures condemning anti-Muslim hate
Activists rally against the Muslim Ban in front of the Supreme Court in Washington on 25 April 2018.
Activists rally against the now-defunct Muslim travel ban, first implemented by Donald Trump, in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, on 25 April 2018 (AFP)

The largest body of lawyers in the United States has passed a resolution condemning Islamophobia and calling on Congress and the United Nations to implement similar resolutions combating anti-Muslim sentiment.

The American Bar Association (ABA)'s House of Delegates passed the resolution on Tuesday during a two-day session looking at a host of new policies and resolutions.

“RESOLVED, That the American Bar Association urges federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments in the United States to condemn Islamophobia and to develop and implement comprehensive strategies to combat Islamophobia," the resolution stated.

The recommended strategies mentioned in the resolution include creating awareness campaigns to educate Americans about Islam and Muslims and also new mechanisms for reporting incidents of Islamophobia and hate crimes.

The resolution also urges US Congress to adopt a bill introduced by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to establish an office in the State Department that monitors Islamophobia - similar to the one that exists for monitoring antisemitism.

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That legislation has yet to receive a vote on the floor of Congress.

Muslim organisations have for years called on the US to track the issue of Islamophobia in the country, and have also lobbied the UN to do so.

Last year, the UN voted to observe the "International Day to Combat Islamophobia". But in March, a coalition of more than a dozen Muslim groups urged the international body to do more to combat anti-Muslim hate at the international level.

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Over the past decade, there have been several major attacks on Muslim populations living in western countries, including a shooting at a mosque in Quebec, Canada, and a mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques that killed more than 50 Muslim worshippers.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has tracked and worked on issues of hate crimes against Muslims in the US, commended the ABA's adoption of the measure.

"We welcome this resolution against Islamophobia by the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world and the nation’s leading legal association, and hope the steps suggested by the resolution will be adopted by state and national policymakers," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the organisation's national deputy director, said in a statement.

Muslim advocacy groups including Cair have reported an uptick in incidents of bias and attacks against Muslims in recent years.

Middle East Eye also reported recently on how bias against Muslim women takes place in US law enforcement, with women being forced to take off their hijabs while in police custody and have their photos taken without their head coverings.

Several of these women have gone on to successfully sue the respective police departments, and in some states, police protocols have also been altered as a result.

The ABA's measure includes a recommendation that US law enforcement departments receive training to recognise forms of discrimination based on religion.

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