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For Immediate Release
January 20, 2021

BERKELEY, CA: The Othering & Belonging Institute welcomes President Biden's rescission of the infamous Muslim Ban, but urges that much more be done to reverse the proliferation of anti-Muslim policies at the federal and state levels over the past two decades.

The Muslim Ban, first introduced by President Trump four years ago as one of his first acts as president, effectively blocked the issuance of travel visas to the United States to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. The move was consistent with Trump's campaign call for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

"The rescission of the Muslim Ban offers a good start to begin the process of belonging for Muslims in the United States, but we need to go further and enact federal and state laws that preempt anti-Muslim policies before they see the light of day," Elsadig Elsheikh, director of OBI's Global Justice Program in charge of our Islamophobia research, said.

Based on an examination by our institute's Islamophobia researchers, the original and subsequent iterations of the Muslim Ban ordered by Trump put the United States in violation of international human rights agreements to which our country belongs.

Because the Muslim Ban and other anti-Muslim laws discriminate against people on the basis of race, national and religious backgrounds, our researchers in a submission last year to the UN's Universal Periodic Review found the US to be in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Specifically, the Muslim Ban put the US in non-compliance with Articles 2(1) and 23(1) of the ICCPR, as we also showed in our report submitted to the UN's Human Rights Council two years ago, as well as General Comment No. 18 of the UN Human Rights Committee.

"We welcome the repeal of the Muslim Ban as a first step to redress the grave injustice, violence, discrimination, and hardships inflicted by the Trump administration toward Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world," Basima Sisemore, an Islamophobia researcher, said.

"But there is still much work to be done by our country's leaders to protect the rights of Muslim Americans, to rescind existing anti-Muslim state-level legislation, and to prevent the enactment of future discriminatory policies," she added

The Muslim Ban was just one of many government policies enacted at the federal and state levels that are explicitly anti-Muslim or promote a culture of Islamophobia as documented in our research.

At the state level, our researchers documented hundreds of cases of lawmakers in 43 states attempting to pass so-called anti-Sharia bills. Those bills ban the use of Islamic religious codes from being considered in US courts. At least 20 such bills have been enacted into law in 13 states across the country.

Anti-Sharia legislation is inherently discriminatory and fails to comply with Articles 2(1), 18(1), 26 and 27 of the ICCPR, and General Comment No. 18 of the UN Human Rights Committee. 

In addition to rescinding those laws, our Institute also calls on the US Senate to pass, and for the president to sign into law, H.Res.183 of the 116th Congress to condemn anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Click for more resources from the Institute on Islamophobia.

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