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Letter to Trump: US Muslims urge president-elect to reject bigotry

Muslim American activists send a letter to President-elect Donald Trump calling on him to uphold the constitution and condemn hate
Two Muslim women were attacked in New York over the past two days (Reuters)

More than 300 Muslim organisers and leaders across the United States issued an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, urging him to protect freedom of religion and revise some of his proposed policies, including creating a Muslim registry.

Amid a rise in attacks targeting Muslims, the authors of the letter called on Trump “to clearly and strongly condemn bigotry, hate crimes and bias-based school bullying directed at any American, including American Muslims”.

Attacks against Muslims have increased throughout the election season, and Trump’s victory last month appears to have led to a further spike in hate-based abuse.

Two Muslim women were attacked in New York City over the past two days.

A uniformed city transit employee was pushed down the stairs at Grand Central, the busy rail hub in Manhattan. The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries to her knee and ankle. 

The suspect called the station agent a "terrorist," said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

And on Saturday evening, an off-duty Muslim police officer was harassed in Brooklyn while out with her 16-year-old son, prosecutors said. The suspect in the incident is facing hate crime charges. 

In their message to Trump, Muslim activists referred to FBI statistics that point to a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015. A recent report by civil rights group the Southern Poverty Law Centre said it had recorded almost 900 hate-based incidents since the election.

"As our President-Elect, one of your duties is to ensure our collective safety and security," the letter reads. "This includes protecting the First Amendment rights of all Americans to freely practice their faith, without fear, intimidation or reprisal."

The organisers said they were concerned particularly over some of Trump’s appointees, and asked the president-elect to reconsider those candidates.

Trump has made a host of controversial appointments.

Katharine Gorka, named to Trump's national security transition team, has rejected calling Islam a religion of peace. Stephen Bannon, the former chief of white nationalist website Breitbart, is Trump's chief strategist. Michael Flynn, who has proclaimed that fear of Muslims is not irrational, was named as national security adviser with KT McFarland, who has called for profiling, as his deputy.

The letter warns Trump against adopting policies that target Americans based on their faith.

"Advisors and members of your transition team have proposed a registry of Muslim immigrants and visitors to this country," the activists said. "Shockingly, an advisor cited the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II - one of the most shameful moments in our nation’s history - as precedent for targeting Muslims."

The authors highlighted Muslim Americans' contributions and commitment to the United States, citing research which shows that Muslims are as likely as Protestants to have a strong American identity.

The letter concludes by wishing Trump success, pledging continued engagement to hold elected officials accountable for upholding the constitution and protecting all citizens.

"We will raise our voices together with all Americans who share our concerns to protect these values," it said.