White House to develop first national strategy to counter Islamophobia

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The White House announced Wednesday it is developing the first national strategy to counter Islamophobia in the United States amid backlash from many Muslim Americans over its support for Israel.

“President Biden ran for office to restore the soul of our nation. He is unequivocal: There is no place for hate in America against anyone. Period,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The strategy will be a joint effort led by the Domestic Policy Council and the National Security Council to “counter the scourge of Islamophobia and hate in all its forms,” she said. The announcement is part of Biden’s 2022 directive to coordinate on efforts to counter Islamophobia, antisemitism and related forms of bias and discrimination.

“For too long, Muslims in America, and those perceived to be Muslim, such as Arabs and Sikhs, have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents,” Jean-Pierre said, mentioning the murder of a 6-year-old Muslim boy last month in Illinois.

The new strategy follows weeks of backlash toward Biden from Democrats on the left wing of the party, young voters, Arab Americans and others over his response to the violence in the Middle East, as Israel has pummeled Gaza with airstrikes.

Biden has been under pressure from progressives and other groups to call for a cease-fire, but the White House has said it supports a “humanitarian pause” and argues that a cease-fire would only help Hamas.

A poll released Tuesday showed that Biden’s support among Arab American voters has plummeted since the Israel-Hamas war, from 59 percent in 2020 to just 17 percent. The poll marks the first time in the 26 years the Arab American Institute has conducted it that the majority did not claim to prefer the Democratic Party.

The White House has been clear on its fight against antisemitism throughout the administration — and especially since an uptick in incidents following the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7. It released the nation’s first national strategy to counter antisemitism and announced new steps earlier this week to address reports of antisemitic incidents on U.S. college campuses.

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