Press Releases

Chairman Nadler Statement for Hearing on "Discrimination and the Civil Rights of the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American Communities"

Washington, March 1, 2022

Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties hearing on "Discrimination and the Civil Rights of the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American Communities:"

"Mr. Chairman, the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian American communities are an essential part of the American fabric. They are our neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Some of our congressional colleagues are members of these communities, and I am pleased that we will hear testimony from several of them today. 

"According to the Census Bureau, there are over 7 million Arab Americans and South Asian Americans in the United States, including over 750,000 in New York City.  We know that the true size of this population is likely even bigger, because the census under-reports these groups.  Indeed, as we consider our recent experience with the census, we know that we must make changes to better track the Arab American community.  

"But even without improved census figures, we know from personal experience that—from small business owners to health care professionals to public servants—the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities are inextricably woven into the fabric of American society.  

"It is also important to acknowledge that while our hearing focuses on some of the common issues confronting these communities as a whole, there is as much diversity among these groups as there is in the rest of America, and they adhere to a range of faiths—including not only Islam, but also Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Baha’i, and Judaism, among others.

"A large part of what binds them together, unfortunately, is a shared experience of discrimination targeted at them that stems from the same poisonous tree.  

"Despite their many contributions and long histories in this country, these communities have often been stigmatized as perpetual foreigners—not only by individuals, but often by the policies of their own government.

"From the nativism confronting those who arrived in the early waves of migration to this country in the late 18th to early 19th century, to those who were scapegoated for the effects of more recent political events like the oil embargo of the 1970s, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have faced discrimination rooted in the idea that they are somehow less American than others, despite the fact that their stories are so similar to those of other American families who arrived here as immigrants.

"And, looming especially large over these communities over the past two decades are the continuing impacts—both in terms of government policy and interpersonal prejudices—of the September 11th terrorist attacks on the United States.  

"Like all Americans, members of the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities recoiled in horror at what happened that day, and they shared in the Nation’s anger and sorrow.  Many members of these communities were themselves victims of the attacks.

"But unlike other communities, many Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Americans endured an unjustified wave of interpersonal discrimination and violence at the hands of their fellow Americans, a societal hatred and cultural stigmatization that continues to impact them to this day, a generation later.

"Even more concerning, the legacy of 9/11 on national security, counterterrorism, and immigration policies continues to have a disproportionately discriminatory impact on these communities.

"And as Americans, we should all be concerned when the government creates and implements national security and law enforcement policies based on broad-brush assumptions about whole communities of Americans based on their race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin, rather than on individualized suspicion.  Such wholesale discriminatory assumptions are not only unconstitutional, but also un-American to the core, and they do nothing to make us safer.

"Finally, we cannot hold this hearing today without examining issues of discrimination as part of a broader context of persistent white supremacist violence and extremism in the United States, a trend that has taken on a recent and disturbing revival. 

"The recent rise in hate crimes across the country has had a significant impact on the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian community, just as it has had on other minority communities.

"From the violence against mosques, to the shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, to the vandalization of Hindu temples, hate crimes and hate incidents continue to significantly target these communities.

"For example, according to the Justice Department’s 2020 hate crime statistics there were 87 anti-Arab offenses, 131 anti-Muslim offenses, 94 anti-Sikh offenses, and 11 anti-Hindu offenses. 

"We also know that all of these statistics are under-reported and that they do not include hate incidents that fall short of the legal definition of 'hate crime.'

"For example, children from these communities are often subject to bullying, a reflection of the interpersonal prejudices they face.  The Sikh Coalition has reported that 67% of Sikh kids who have a turban have been bullied. 

"The conversation we are having today is long overdue.  It appears that the most recent Congressional hearing solely focused on issues impacting any part of the Muslim, Arab, or South Asian American communities was held in 1986, in the Crime Subcommittee.  It is long past time to shine a light on the needs of these communities once again. 

"I look forward to hearing today from the excellent panel of witnesses who will provide insight on the current issues impacting these communities, and how we can better ensure that they have the protection, justice, equality and healing that they deserve. 

"I thank Chairman Cohen for holding this important hearing, and I yield back the balance of my time."