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NY Councilman Launches Muslim Empowerment Initiative

NEW YORK – New York City councilman and council speaker have announced dedicating $250,000 as a placeholder for a future Muslim Empowerment Initiative for the fiscal year 2019 in collaboration with the New York Immigration Coalition.

“As New York state’s sole Muslim elected representative, I’ve had the honor of working with these very organizations to advocate for our community and provide invaluable services,” said City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans, Times Ledger reported.

The announcement, made by Miller and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan), was made at the Islamic Circle of North America in Jamaica, New York.

Speaking at the mosque, they said that the funds will benefit 14 organizations that serve the city’s Muslim population.

Miller and Johnson, in conjunction with the immigration coalition, partnered up to fight against the increased Islamophobia against Muslim Americans, which has risen by 19 percent since 2016, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

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A Pew Research study reported that hate crimes against Muslims in 2017 well exceeded the number that occurred after the Sept. 11 attacks across the United States.

After the Sept. 11 attacks at the World Trade Center, there were 93 anti-Muslim assaults and in 2017 there were 127, according to the study.

Rising Hate

Miller blamed hateful nationalist rhetoric during the 2016 presidential campaign for the increase in anti-Muslim attacks.

“The policies flowing from Washington D.C. of late have served to marginalize and malign our country’s immigrants and minorities. In response, this council has redoubled its efforts to celebrate diversity, promote inclusion, and preserve fundamental rights for all New Yorkers,” said Miller.

The Queens organizations that will receive funds are Chhaya Community Development Corporation ($15,000) and Desis Rising Up & Moving ($15,000) in Jackson Heights, the Islamic Circle of North America ($20,000) and India Home, Inc.-NY ($20,000) in Jamaica, the Council on American-Islamic Relations New York, Inc. ($15,000) in Ditmars-Steinway, the South Asian Youth Action, Inc. ($20,000), and Turning Point for Women and Families ($20,000) in Flushing.

“This support will empower community organizations to counter the unprecedented rise in anti-Muslim bias. Since 2015, CAIR-NY has recorded a 974 percent increase in harassment, discrimination, and hate crimes targeting Muslim New Yorkers,” said CAIR-NY Legal Director Albert Cahn.

Other organizations include the Arab American Association of New York, Inc. ($20,000), The Arab-American Family Support Center, Inc. ($20,000), African Communities Together, Inc. ($20,000), African Services Committee, Inc., ($20,000), the Council of Peoples Organization, Inc. ($20,000), Muslim Community Network ($15,000), and Muslim American Society ($15,000).

“It is especially important in the current climate of uncertainty and fear that grassroots organizations like ours are able to build vital infrastructure to sustain our community,” said Arab American Association of New York Executive Director Rama Issa.