In the wake of several instances of Islamaphobic violence in New York City, and against the backdrop of an election that questions the rights of Muslims in the U.S., the city launched a multi-pronged campaign Monday to confront hate and promote respect.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Commission on Human Rights created the campaign, the first Muslim-specific tolerance initiative, to promote “respect, understanding and support for the city’s diverse communities.” It begins with a series of social media ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter that state “I am Muslim. I am NYC” along with the photo of a real Muslim New Yorkers, and the hashtag #IAmMuslimNYC.
The social media campaign was designed to underscore anti-discrimination protections under the NYC Human Rights Law that have been in place since 1945. The ads go to NYC.gov/imamuslimnyc, that will list the full program of resources, events and calls-to-action planned through the initiative.
As news of terrorism continues to overwhelm the perception of Islam, anti-Muslim attacks and threats in the U.S. have surged, records and research shows. More than 3.3 million Muslims live in the US, and an estimated 600,000 live in New York. This initiative is dedicated to making sure their lives are as free and safe as all other groups.
“To combat xenophobia and Islamophobia, we must come together in solidarity to develop strategies against it,” said Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs in a statement to the news media. “Our recent convening with Muslim community leaders, immigrant advocates, and refugee rights advocates is leading to the creation of a shared action plan.”
The campaign will continue into 2017 and include a series of educational programs aimed at building trust and awareness of the rights of Muslim New Yorkers.
"These bold new ads affirm every Muslim New Yorker's right to live safely and free from discrimination," Carmelyn P. Malalis, chair and commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, said in an email. "They also show that Muslims are hardworking New Yorkers just like you and me. They are our police, our teachers, our small business owners and our neighbors and they deserve the same respect as everyone else."