WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As the White House announced plans to develop a national strategy to combat Islamophobia, leaders in the Muslim community say they need more action following an surge in domestic threats.
“Islamophobia will continue to grow unless the violence overseas, which is fueling bigotry and unrest, stops,” Council on American-Islamic Relations civil rights attorney Edward Ahmed Mitchell said
Federal law enforcement reported a surge in threats to both Muslim and Jewish communities since the war between Hamas and Israel erupted.
“We’ve received 774 complaints in the two weeks after Oct. 7 — that’s a 245% increase,” Mitchell said.
He said reckless rhetoric from Washington has made Muslims a target.
“A few weeks ago, the administrations language was not even recognizing the humanity of Palestinians or the suffering that Muslims in America were experiencing,” Mitchell said.
The White House this week announced that the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice are working with faith groups and college campuses to combat threats of violence. On Thursday, it defended the timing of the effort, which it says has been in the works since December 2022.
“This is a very genuine effort,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, adding that engaging with the Muslim community would “inform” the White House’s work.
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., applauded the administration’s efforts to condemn hatred.
“Coming from the highest office in the land, it’s important for the world to hear … because this stuff is getting out of control … that Hamas and Palestine are not the same,” he said.
Groups like CAIR have called for a cease-fire. The White House said that remains off the table but on Thursday urged a pause in the conflict to evacuate more civilians from Gaza.