JFREJ voices support for Omar Mohammedi as a commissioner with the New York City Human Rights Commission

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November 19, 2002

Mayor Bloomberg
City Hall

We write on behalf of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, a New York City membership organization, to voice our strong support for Patricia Gatling's appointment of Omar Mohammedi as a commissioner with the New York City Human Rights Commission.

In the year since the events of September 11, anti-Muslim bias has exploded in this country, with more than 1,700 documented incidents, including 289 violent assaults, 11 hate murders, and 415 acts of government racial profiling and discrimination. Protecting Muslims, Arab Americans and Asian Americans from this wave of discrimination and violence is one of the most urgent civil rights challenges facing our nation and our city today.

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice has been proud to join this civil rights effort by organizing against bias attacks, racial profiling, and secret, open-ended immigrant detentions. Among the respected community organizations we work with in this necessary struggle, such as the Interfaith Center of New York and the Muslim American Society, Omar Mohammedi has a reputation as a respected leader, someone devoted to defending the human rights of Muslim and Arab New Yorkers and the broader community-someone with a deep passion for civil rights.

With its large and diverse Muslim population, New York City urgently needs a civil rights leader of Omar Mohammedi's skill and stature on the Human Rights Commission.

We would also like to address the way Mr. Mohammedi has been targeted for his association with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). It is appropriate for a member of the city's Human Rights Commission to be a leader in a prominent Muslim civil rights organization. CAIR's stated mission is to "promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America" and "to empower the Muslim community in America"; the organization tracks anti-Muslim bias incidents and advocates on behalf of immigrant rights and in opposition to racial profiling. Despite charges to the contrary, CAIR strongly condemned the September 11th attacks and organized a national interfaith day of remembrance on the one-year anniversary. It would show a disturbing disregard for the civil rights of Muslim Americans to discredit Mr. Mohammedi's entire record because some believe that CAIR has not condemned terrorism strongly enough.

Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Gatling, we trust that you will not bend to this kind of scapegoating, and continue your support for this historic appointment. All of us must keep our eyes on the prize of defending the rights of all New Yorkers to live free from violence, harassment, and discrimination, and to participate fully in the political life of the city.

Michael Hirschhorn
Esther Kaplan