Islamophobia protests

White House Unveils National Plan to Address Islamophobia

The White House announced November 1 that the administration of President Joe Biden will formulate a nationwide strategy to address and combat Islamophobia.

Called the “National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia in the United States,” the plan is the first of its kind in the country, the White House said in a statement

“For too long, Muslims in America, and those perceived to be Muslim such as non-Muslim Arabs and Sikhs, have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents,” the statement said.

It recalled the “recent barbaric killing” of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a six-year-old Palestinian American Muslim boy who was stabbed 26 times (along with his mother who was rushed to hospital) by their landlord in their home in suburban Chicago four days after the October 7 Hamas attacks in Israel. 

The White House announcement, the statement pointed out, is the most recent measure taken in line with President Biden’s directive from December 2022, which called for the creation of an interagency group to enhance and improve the coordination of U.S. government actions aimed at countering Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and similar manifestations of prejudice and discrimination within the U.S.    

“Moving forward, the President, Vice President, and our entire Administration will continue working to ensure every American has the freedom to live their lives in safety and without fear for how they pray, what they believe, and who they are,” the statement said.

The announcement comes at a time when many Muslim Americans express skepticism toward the White House because of its strong support for Israel’s military offensive in Gaza in response to the October 7 Hamas attacks.  

On November 1, Biden traveled to Minnesota, home to a substantial and increasing Muslim community. The president pledged to persist in urging Israel to abide by international laws that safeguard civilians during conflicts and to advocate for greater humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

That same day, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—the first African-American and first Muslim to be elected to Minnesota statewide office in 2019 and one of Biden’s prominent allies in the Muslim American community—suggested it would be beneficial for the president to express a stronger and more assertive stance regarding the necessity of safeguarding civilians in Gaza.  

“I think it would help a lot,” Ellison said.

Meanwhile, Biden remarked that it was impossible not to be emotionally affected by the distressing images of suffering among Palestinians.

“The loss of innocent life is a tragedy,” the president said, referring in part to “Palestinian children crying out for lost parents.” While everyone mourns those deaths, he added, they also “continue to grieve for the Israeli children and mothers brutally slaughtered by Hamas terrorists.”