Islamophobia making 'ugly resurgence' globally since Israel-Gaza, Biden says

UN experts say acts of intimidation, violence and incitement based on religion rose sharply globally last year

US President Joe Biden said 'Islamophobia has no place in our nation'. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

US President Joe Biden on Friday warned of an “ugly resurgence” of Islamophobia since the start of the Israel-Gaza war and said Muslims in the US frequently face violence and blatant discrimination.

Mr Biden's statement came on the International Day to Combat Islamophobia, which the UN established in 2022 on the March 15 anniversary of the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 51 people were killed during Friday prayers.

“We recognise the violence and hate that Muslims worldwide too often face because of their religious beliefs – and the ugly resurgence of Islamophobia in the wake of the devastating war in Gaza,” Mr Biden said.

“Islamophobia has no place in our nation. Yet Muslims in the United States frequently endure baseless fearmongering, blatant discrimination, harassment, and violence in the course of their everyday lives.”

Mr Biden said his administration is drafting a national strategy to combat Islamophobia.

“The goal of this strategy is to mobilise a whole-of-society effort to counter all forms of hate, discrimination, and bias against Muslim, Sikh, South Asian, and Arab American communities and to raise awareness about their heritage and invaluable contributions to our country” Mr Biden said.

The President said while Muslims in the US often face discrimination and violence, his administration is bolstering security at mosques and fighting hate crimes against vulnerable groups.

“We are taking concrete steps to make real for all Americans the promise of America: that we are all created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout our lives,” he continued.

As Mr Biden campaigns for re-election in 2024, many Palestinian, Arab and Muslim Americans have expressed dismay over Washington’s “unwavering” support for Israel’s war in Gaza.

His staunch support could even cost him the White House: In critical swing state Michigan, more than 100,000 Arab American Democrats have pledged not to back Mr Biden in the election.

Meanwhile, experts from the UN said on Friday that acts of harassment, intimidation, violence and incitement based on religion or belief rose sharply across the world last year, reaching alarming levels, and creating a climate of fear and deep distrust.

“Orchestrated public burnings of the holy Quran are deplorable. Expressions of religious intolerance engender deep hurt and fear at individual and community levels, and must be condemned,” said the experts.

They said they were appalled at Israel's refusal to allow humanitarian assistance and food aid to be “provided to the mainly Muslim civilian population in Gaza despite the widespread hunger and signs of severe malnutrition.”

They also expressed concern at the “undue restrictions” imposed on access to the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem.

Updated: March 15, 2024, 4:57 PM