By Andrew Jose
The House on Tuesday passed a bill sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota that would establish a State Department office to fight “Islamophobia” worldwide.
The Combating International Islamophobia Act was approved 219-212 along party lines.
All the votes for the bill came from Democrats without a single Republican legislator voting in favor, according to the House of Representatives’ Office of the Clerk. All the votes against came from Republicans, with no Democrat voting against the party line.
One Democrat and two Republican representatives abstained from voting.
The bill instructs the secretary of state to create an “Office to Monitor and Combat Islamophobia” led by a presidentially appointed “special envoy for monitoring and combating Islamophobia.”
The legislation also mandates that, starting 180 days after its enactment, the State Department include acts of anti-Muslim violence and incitement in its annual human rights reports on countries worldwide and in its annual international religious freedom report.
A final provision in the bill prohibits any funds allocated to the bill’s fulfillment from going to efforts to “promote or endorse a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement ideology” or “used to promote or endorse a Muslim ban, such as the one instituted by former President Trump.”
In none of the sections, however, does the bill define what makes up “Islamophobia.”
“As a country that was founded on religious liberty, our leadership on international religious freedom depends on recognizing that Islamophobia is global in scope, and that we must lead the global effort to address it,” Omar, who is Muslim and a member of the so-called squad of progressive lawmakers, said during a House debate on the legislation.
According to The Associated Press, the bill is viewed as a Democratic response to Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who had earlier said that Omar was part of the “jihad squad” of lawmakers in Congress.
Boebert was also filmed making a remark that some considered to be Islamophobic, the AP reported.
The video showed the conservative firebrand narrating to her constituents that a police officer at the Capitol approached her with a “fret on his face” after she got inside an elevator.
“I look to my left and there she is — Ilhan Omar. And I said, ‘Well, she doesn’t have a backpack. We should be fine,'” Boebert then reportedly said, with a laugh.
Some who thought Boebert was saying Omar was not carrying a suicide bomb considered the backpack reference offensive.
The video was denounced by House Democratic leaders, who released a statement in condemnation of what they called “Boebert’s repeated, ongoing and targeted Islamophobic comments.”
The Tuesday bill came as Democrats were trying to figure out a way to respond to Boebert without stripping her of her committee assignments, The Hill reported. It said Democratic leaders were worried that if they remove Boebert from her committees, it would only improve her profile in the Republican Party.
Prior to the vote on Tuesday, Omar told journalists that she was still hopeful that “specific action” would be taken against Boebert, the Hill reported.
Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana spoke out against the Democrats’ Islamophobia bill, according to the Hill.
“Republicans firmly believe that no one should ever be attacked or denied their human rights or dignity because of their religious faith, but this rushed, partisan legislation does not represent a serious legislative effort and is instead a divisive messaging bill that is unlikely to become law,” he said in a statement.
GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia also criticized the legislation, pointing out that it does not define what “Islamophobia” is in the first place and asking whether it would force the U.S. to take action against Israel for fighting Hamas attackers.
When the debate for the Tuesday bill was introduced, Democratic House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts referred to surveys pointing to an increase in global and nationwide anti-Muslim sentiment and urged that the U.S. respond to the uptick, the AP reported.
McGovern also took a jab at Boebert without naming her by saying that a colleague “told a completely fabricated story again and again that implies a Muslim colleague is a terrorist … just because they are Muslim.”
He wasn’t alone in taking a shot at the Republican congresswoman.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, without naming her, said that the behavior of a House member was “far beneath the standard of dignity of integrity — dignity and decency with which the Constitution and our constituents require that we act in the House. These actions must be called out and not tolerated,” the Hill reported.
To be made into law, the Islamophobia bill needs to pass through the Senate and be signed by President Joe Biden.
On Tuesday, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey said in a statement that he, along with Sens. Ben Cardin of Maryland and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, had introduced the companion legislation to the House bill.
“We’ve witnessed in recent years an alarming rise in Islamophobia both in the United States and globally that has threatened the religious freedom, well-being, and lives of Muslims,” Booker said.
“Establishing a Special Envoy at the State Department is an important step that we should take to develop a comprehensive plan to reverse this trend and position the U.S. as a global leader in combating hate,” he said.
Cardin added, “This bill would elevate our commitment to freedom of religion and further protect the rights of Muslims everywhere.”
Author: Andrew Jose
Source: Western Journal: House Democrats Force Through 'Islamophobia' Bill Without a Single Republican Vote