COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The City of Columbus is officially taking a stand against Islamophobia. City council passed a resolution yesterday that condemns religious intolerance.
Supporters of the resolution say there has been too much hate, prejudice and misinformation surrounding the Muslim community, especially during this election season. Now, it’s being formerly declared that Columbus is a welcoming place for everyone.
“It was refreshing to see that the community is standing with us,” says Salma Alsibai.
She was at City Hall when the resolution was passed.
“They’re saying we stand firmly against fear-mongering, Islamophobia, xenophobia that they won’t tolerate this anymore,” says Alsibai.
Councilman Michael Stinziano says it’s important that all citizens are able to practice their constitutional right of freedom of religion, unhindered.
“It says we, Columbus really we recognize and honors our diversity,” says Stinziano. “We took a stand against hateful speech and misinformation.”
Alsibai says it’s a confidence boost especially for parents.
“It gave us something to go to our kids with that we keep telling them yes you are American being Muslim doesn’t negate that,” she says.
Alsibai says children are being bullied, women attacked for the way they’re dressed.
“There’s been this dehumanization, as if we have no feelings as if these words, these insults, these physical assaults don’t hurt,” she says.
Nicole Ghazi and Imran Malik at the Noor Islamic Cultural Center say election season is when anti-Muslim sentiment is at it’s worst.
“We’re just in something that we’ve never really seen in all the presidential elections that I’ve at least lived through,” says Ghazi.
They emphasize the importance of everyone and all marginalized groups of people to stand together.
“These are human rights,” she says. “These are not just basic civil rights.”
“We all need to heal together,” says Malik. “The nation needs a healing and only through outreach and working together can we put this on the backburner.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations in Columbus tells us they have 50 clients right now, all victims of discrimination. Some of their clients have been fired for praying at work. Others have been harassed on the street. The organization hopes the resolution will help end anti-Muslim bigotry.
The city’s resolution is an interfaith initiative. Councilman Stinziano says the Central Ohio Jewish Voice for Peace is the group that brought up the issue of Islamophobia to city council. The organization says they decided to take up the issue in light of its member’s own memory of the persecution of Jews and other minorities under Nazi Germany.
“I was brought up to believe in ‘Never Again’,” says Amy Shuster of the JVP. “And what that means is that we will never again stand by silently while vulnerable members of our community are targeted by extremist hate groups.”
If you are a victim of discrimination and you’d like to file a complaint with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CLICK HERE.