The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today strongly reiterated its commitment to protecting the rights of Arab Americans and Muslims. "Whatever views may have been expressed recently by any member of the Commission to the contrary, the agency has been in the forefront of demonstrating that combating terrorism should never become a war against Arab Americans or Muslims, or any group based on religion or national origin," stated Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry.
"Maintaining a secure homeland does not justify discrimination against Arab Americans and others today, any more than World War II justified the internment of innocent Japanese Americans over a half century ago," stated Chairperson Berry. "Although individual Commissioners are entitled to their own views, the Commission is charged with the vital mission of serving as a vigilant watchdog of the civil rights of all Americans."
Berry noted that the Commission convened its July meeting in Detroit to learn first hand from its Midwestern State Advisory Committees (SAC) about the post 9/11 civil rights problems faced by Arab Americans and Muslims in their respective states. The Commission was particularly eager to learn about developments in the Detroit area, home to the largest Arab American community in the United States.
In this regard, the Commission and its SACs have launched many initiatives including the following:
The Illinois and Maryland/Virginia/Washington, D.C. advisory committees conducted public forums addressing the civil rights concerns of Arab Americans and Muslim communities. SACs in Alabama, California, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Wyoming sponsored similar public initiatives.