Some individuals, institutions and groups deserve recognition for their outstanding contributions to pushing back against Islamophobic trends. This list is neither comprehensive nor offered in any specific order. However, those listed below do deserve particular credit for their contributions to American pluralism.
The “My Jihad” Campaign
A public education campaign launched in December 2012, My Jihad seeks to reclaim a term that has been distorted both by violent extremists and anti-Muslim groups. The ads included text such as, “My Jihad is to build bridges through friendship. What’s yours?” and “My Jihad is to march on despite losing my son. What’s yours?” My Jihad ads were placed on buses in Chicago and San Francisco, and in metro train stations in Washington, DC.
Washington State Senate
Bucking the anti-Islam legislating trend, lawmakers in Washington state passed the “Faith in Our State and Laws” resolution in 2013. The resolution states, “this body believes that it is not the role of the legislature of Washington State to disparage or marginalize any religious tradition. Senators then resolve, “this body has full confidence in the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state of Washington and does not entertain any concern that any foreign or religious law offers a threat to the law of the land.”
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
In 2013, Gov. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed SB 267, a bill designed to vilify Islam. Introduced by Senator Brian Nieves (R-Washington) and passed by the Republican controlled legislature, the bill containedlanguage extracted from Islamophobe David Yerushalmi’s American Laws for American Courts template legislation. Nieves had previously acknowledged that there was no immediate threat to the state. In a statement announcing the veto, Gov. Nixon said: “This legislation seeks to solve a problem that does not exist, while creating the very real problem of jeopardizing Missouri’s families’ ability to adopt children from foreign countries.”
San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors
In March 2013, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the content of Islamophobic advertisements placed on San Francisco buses by the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s (AFDI). Board President David Chiu sponsored the resolution, which was the first of its kind in the nation. At the time Chiu said: “As a former civil rights attorney, I’m proud to stand with our Arab and Muslim American families to send a united message that San Francisco embraces diversity and tolerance, not hate and bigotry.” At the request of 75 organizations and 35 leaders, the resolution called for the proceeds from the series of offensive advertisements to fund a city-wide study on the impact of discrimination on Arab and Muslim communities. The resolution was preceded by a press conference led by the city’s District Attorney George Gascon in which various city leaders came together to vocally condemn the advertisements.
Spread Hummus, Not Hate, organized by the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum, brought D.C. area Muslims and Jews together in October 2014 to serve pita and hummus to the public. The event was a visible display of unity between the two faiths that, according to the Jewish-Islamic Dialogue Soceity (JIDS) of Washington, proves “we refuse to be enemies”.