By Carmelyn P. Malalis, Nisha Agarwal, and Marco A. Carrión
Xenophobic rhetoric has reached a fever pitch in recent months. Across the country, Muslim, immigrant, and refugee communities have become targets for hateful speech and even hateful acts.
In New York City, we do not and will not accept hatred, violence, or discrimination of any kind. Now more than ever, we stand united as one City and reject hate and fear in all its forms.
To the Muslim, immigrant, and refugee communities living in every borough of this great city -- we see you, we affirm your dignity, and we will not allow you, your families, or your communities to be harmed or targeted in any way.
This week, the de Blasio administration announced several ongoing efforts to address violence, discrimination, and hate targeting your communities, including public safety events, a social media ad campaign supporting Muslim New Yorkers, distribution of educational anti-discrimination materials, and workshops to increase cultural awareness and combat xenophobic rhetoric.
The recent tragic murders of Nazma Khanam, a 60-year-old Bangladeshi woman fatally stabbed in Jamaica Hills, Imam Maulama Akonjee and his associate, Thara Uddin, who were shot in Ozone Park, and the Muslim woman who was set on fire in Manhattan are stark reminders of the need to increase public safety and support for vulnerable communities across the city.
In response, the City and its agencies, including ours, will be continuing to host Public Safety Forums to address violence targeting your communities. We will share information from NYPD, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Department of Education to ensure that you know your rights. Earlier this month, the NYPD and city officials met with Muslim leaders to discuss increased security measures surrounding Eid ul-Adha celebrations.
Our agencies also continue to engage and unite different Muslim, refugee, and immigrant groups across the city in an effort to combat hate and discrimination. Recently, we met with these communities to discuss shared actions to combat xenophobic rhetoric, including a joint multi-sector action plan to join forces and push back. Mayor de Blasio also recently met with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan along with 200 Muslim leaders to discuss how New York City and other cities can better address Islamophobia and prevent hate crimes and other acts of discrimination.
The New York City Commission on Human Right also launched a bold digital ad campaign this week with hashtag #IamMuslimNYC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in support of Muslim New Yorkers. The ads affirm and celebrate Muslim New Yorkers, underscore anti-discrimination protections under the NYC Human Rights Law, and direct people to NYC.gov/iammuslimnyc, a page that list resources, calls-to-actions, and events that support and serve Muslim New Yorkers.
We also recognize that change needs to happen from within, which is why the NYC Commission on Human Rights is working with community leaders and the Islamic Center at NYU to create a workshop called "Understanding Islam" which will promote religious literacy among City agency staff and later, public and private employers citywide. IDNYC staff, the largest municipal ID program in the country, already received an Islamophobia training earlier this year. The NYC Commission on Human Rights will also be host free workshops for the general public addressing religious protections against discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law.
New York City cares about the safety and dignity of all its people, no matter where you come from, what you look like, or where you pray. In New York City, we are all New Yorkers - Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Agnostic, and Atheist alike.
We are made stronger by our diversity. And we will not rest until all New Yorkers, including you and your families, are safe and treated with the dignity and respect you deserve.
Carmelyn P. Malalis is the Commissioner and Chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Nisha Agarwal is the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. Marco A. Carrión is the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor's Community Affairs Unit.