Biden issues new measures to address Islamophobia and anti-Semitism at US schools

Education Department will also host listening sessions to learn how schools are keeping pupils safe

People attend a demonstration in New York City to express solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Reuters
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President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced new measures to address the rise of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism at schools and universities since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war.

As part of the latest effort, the Education Department is releasing two guides to help teachers, pupils, students and parents to prevent anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination at schools and universities.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity agency will provide resources and other services to help support schools' security requirements.

The Education Department will also host listening sessions to learn how schools are keeping pupils safe. Sessions with Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Palestinian, Sikh and other religions are planned over the coming weeks, the White House said.

Universities have witnessed numerous anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents at campuses in recent weeks.

Ivy league institution Cornell University cancelled classes earlier this month after a student was arrested for making anti-Semitic threats, The Cornell Daily Sun reported. And at Stanford, an Arab Muslim student was struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run incident during which the driver shouted Islamophobic remarks, The Stanford Daily said.

Tuesday's actions are part of a broader effort by the Biden administration to respond to the rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia since the Hamas attack on Israel October 7.

Mr Biden has recently announced the US would develop a National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia as his administration faced criticism over its strong support for Israel, although Muslim and Arab Americans remain sceptical of the plan.

His administration is under mounting pressure to press Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call for a ceasefire as Israeli air strikes have killed more than 11,000 people. He has so far rebuffed all calls for a truce.

Updated: November 14, 2023, 2:35 PM