Secretary Cardona Holds Meeting with National Muslim, Arab, and Sikh Leaders to Address Soaring Levels of Islamophobia and Anti-Arab Hate in Educational Institutions

The U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, along with Deputy Secretary Cindy Marten and other senior officials from the Biden-Harris Administration, held a meeting today with leaders from national Muslim, Arab, and Sikh organizations. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the measures and resources that the administration has announced to address the concerning rise in instances of Islamophobia, Antisemitism, and hate-driven threats and violence in schools and college campuses.

During the meeting, the administration officials listened to the leaders’ accounts of the deeply troubling pattern of hate and violence in educational institutions since the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on October 7. Secretary Cardona vehemently condemned Islamophobia, anti-Arab bigotry, Antisemitism, and all other forms of hate.

This meeting follows a similar engagement with Jewish leaders to address Antisemitism in schools and college campuses.

Last week, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education released a Dear Colleague letter, reminding PreK-12 schools and higher education institutions about their legal obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The letter emphasizes the need to provide a discrimination-free school environment to all students, including those who are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian. To reinforce this, the OCR has updated its intake form for discrimination complaints under Title VI to explicitly state the prohibition of certain forms of Islamophobia and antisemitism under this law.

The Department of Education has also introduced a range of resources since the October 7 attacks. The Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships published a dedicated landing page with resources to address Islamophobia. In addition, earlier this month, the White House announced the development of the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia.

Under the guidance of President Biden and Vice President Harris, the administration and the Department of Education will maintain their engagement with leading organizations and students to gather firsthand input and take further actions to combat Islamophobia, anti-Arab bigotry, and all other forms of hate.

Among the participants in the meeting were:

  • Rahmah Abdulaleem, President-Elect, National Association of Muslim Lawyers
  • Dr. Debbie Almontaser, Founder and CEO, Bridging Cultures Group
  • Wa’el Alzayat, CEO, Emgage
  • Lina Assi, Advocacy Manager, Palestine Legal
  • Abed Ayoub, National Executive Director, American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
  • Maya Berry, Executive Director, Arab American Institute
  • Dr. Amal David, Co-founder, Arab America Foundation
  • Dr. Amaarah DeCuir, School of Education, American University
  • Maha Elgenaidi, Founder and Executive Director, Islamic Networks Group
  • Johaer Jilani, Muslim Students Association National
  • Tasneem Noor, Programs Director, Muslim-Jewish New Ground
  • Harman Singh, Policy and Education Director, Sikh Coalition
  • Dr. Shirin Sinnar, Stanford University

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