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Tell Your Senators: We need to Combat Islamophobia

Poligon and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and invite you support the Combating International Islamophobia Act (S.3384). Adopted in the U.S. House last December (H.R.5665), this act would create a special envoy in the U.S. Department of State to monitor and combat international Islamophobia and require the department to annually report on Islamophobia. 

Our primary goal is to encourage greater Senate co-sponsorship of this bill and encourage Muslim and allied community members to openly ask their U.S. Senators whether they plan to support this bill and the creation of the Islamophobia envoy position. While we do not necessarily expect the Senate to adopt the act this year, we are hopefully planting the seeds of victory for next year. 

Who Is Already a Co-Sponsor?

S.3384 was introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Raphael Warnock (D-GA).

The bill is currently being held up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) due to lack of Republican Senator cosponsorship. All House Republicans voted against the companion bill to S.3384.

It is important for the Senate version of this bill to gain additional Republican cosponsors because Senate committee procedures require bipartisan support for legislation to be scheduled for a markup and hearing.

How to Help?

Call you Senators to support and co-sponsor the bill

Tweet and Post about this bill on social media. See our toolkit here.

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Reasons to Support the Combating International Islamophobia Act:

In its 2021 annual report, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) identified three Countries of Particular Concern primarily for their treatment of Muslims.

Several additional countries listed by USCIRF were identified as having patterns of mistreatment and human rights violations against either their entire Muslim populations or particular sects of Muslims. This includes several Muslim-majority countries.

State acts of persecution and violence against Muslims can be found in India and Burma – in addition to China, which the United States recognized as committing a genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic minority groups living the country’s Uyghur region.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric, bigotry and acts of violence also go together with the rise of political parties that outwardly attack the rights of Muslims, especially in France and other parts of Europe.

Transnational white supremacist and Islamophobic hate group networks have also inspired their followers to commit acts of anti-Muslim violence and terrorism, including but not limited to the tragic summer 2021 murder of a Muslim family in London, Ontario and the 2019 Christchurch, New Zealand Mosque shootings.

Urge your elected officials to approve the Combating International Islamophobia Act, which would provide valuable information for understanding Islamophobia as a global phenomenon and give the U.S. a new tool to combat it.

Poligon Education Fund On the Senate Filibuster of For the People Act (S.1)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

Poligon Education Fund On the Senate Filibuster of For the People Act (S.1)

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement in response to the Senate blocking of For the People Act (S.1) on Tuesday, June 22nd: 
The passage of the For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1) would have reversed the anti-voter laws being upheld across the country, create a national standard of voter accessibility, get big money out of politics, and stop partisan gerrymandering. Despite today’s disappointing development, Poligon Education Fund reaffirms its commitment to democracy reform and support of For the People Act (S.1), to protect access to the ballot box and ensure every American is represented in our government. 

An overwhelming 8 in 10 Americans, across all political spectrum, support the For the People Act and its measures to protect our freedom to vote. Many provisions of the For the People Act have nonpartisan origins and were passed by both Republican and Democratic legislatures.The blocking of S.1 in the Senate today is a great disappointment and a testament to how detached some of our elected representatives in Congress have come from the people they represent. At a time when draconian voter suppression laws continue to attack the people’s right to vote and uphold the rule for the wealthiest few, proactive action on For the People Act in the Senate is the ground for safeguarding voting rights, not the ceiling.

It is important to note that some of the opposition to S.1 are on procedural matters, not substance. We call on our Senators to center the needs of their constituents and stand on the right side of history, as the legislation has always been nonpartisan, comprehensive, and people-centered. A stand against For the People Act is a stand for voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of millions of vulnerable communities. We reaffirm our unwavering support for voting rights and democracy reform and clearly state that procedural obstacles, including the Senate filibuster, should not stand in the way of protecting the freedom to vote for all Americans. 

We call on our Senators to protect and advance the For the People Act in the Senate in a manner that centers the millions of Americans, particularly Black and brown Americans, who will continue to be disenfranchised and silenced. There is a path to pass this sweeping voting rights legislation. It is a matter of urgency and every Senator’s duty to prioritize the passage of S.1. In the eloquently spoken words of Sen. Warnock, we remind our Congress Members: 

“It is a contradiction to say we must protect minority rights in the Senate while refusing to protect minority rights in our society. No Senate rule should overrule the integrity of the democracy itself, and we must find a way to pass voting rights whether we get rid of the filibuster or not.”

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Poligon Education Fund is a non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through research, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

Protesting While Muslim: Before Kaepernick there was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

For many of us who are trying to move towards a more inclusive and open society for everyone, it is essential that we know the benefits and importance of protest. I want to highlight a significant figure within U.S. history whose protest we see continues on today.

In 2016, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest the National Anthem by not standing. His reasoning was in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and against the killing of African Americans by the police. Although this was a controversial move, he received widespread support and praise for his actions from all over the nation and world. While corporate America and politicians such as Iowa Congressman Steve King who equated sitting during the National Anthem to a terrorist organization, “This is activism that’s sympathetic to ISIS.” Enduring the harsh words of our elected officials was just the beginning of the effects of Kaepernick’s protest. Unfortunately, his own employer the National Football League has treated him as a pariah. Even this current administration has waded into this issue, on the night of May 2nd, President Donald Trump said he’s the reason Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been signed yet, citing teams’ apparent fear of getting a nasty tweet from him afterwards. After having lead his team to the Super Bowl and NFC championships, he is now, as a free agent, unable to get a contract with any football teams. 20 years ago, almost to the day, another sports athlete, pro-basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the National Anthem. His treatment has been a cautionary tale for our athletes.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly Chris Jackson, embraced Islam in 1991 when he was a student at my alma mater Louisiana State University (LSU). Interestingly, this is also the school that basketball great Shaquille O’Neal graduated in 2000, so LSU was a feeder school for some of our most talented basketball players. Abdul-Rauf was signed as a star player for the Denver Nuggets, but he was also known for one of the most accurate free-throw shooting records ever. In early 1996 Abdul-Rauf had been trying to avoid controversy regarding the National Anthem by staying in the locker or facing away, finally he decided to stop standing for the anthem. His reasoning for not standing was the result of his becoming more politically aware of the national and global repercussions of US policies noting “the flag in many countries represents “oppression and tyranny.”

The National Basketball Association (NBA) swiftly took action against Abdul-Rauf, suspending him from the team. The suspension was lifted after 72 hours with Abdul-Rauf agreeing to stand with his hands in prayer. Although there was no rule about standing for the anthem, the NBA fined him, suspended him, and tried to end his career. The Nuggets traded him and he wasn’t picked up by any other NBA team. He moved around, playing internationally, but never getting another opportunity to play for the NBA in the US. Abdul-Rauf also received death threats and his house was destroyed due to his actions. These appear to be similar tactics being used against Kaepernick, but now that there is social media and other outlets support for his protest is better mobilized.

Abdul-Rauf has endured and to this day he repeats what he said when he was being faced with the loss of his career, wealth, and standing as an athlete, “I have no regrets. This is what I believed and I’m not wrong for the stance that I took.” He has read the works of Arundhati Roy, the Indian political activist and author, and her words encouraged and opened his eyes, “Once you see something, you can’t unsee it. So to be silent, to say nothing, is just as political an act of speaking out. Either way you’re accountable. So we’re not saved through our silence, actually, the politics of silence is a negative one, we’re still accountable.” Finally, Abdul-Rauf was recently speaking in Houston, TX about his life and career, something he does much more now that others are comparing Kaepernick’s activism to his, he notes that for him protesting doesn’t conflict with his Muslim faith, “You can’t be for God and for oppression.”

Other resources about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf:

  1. http://www.what-happened-to-mahmoud-abdul-rauf.com/
  2. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  3. https://theundefeated.com/features/abdul-rauf-doesnt-regret-sitting-out-national-anthem/

Sources

  1. http://progressive.org/magazine/season-dissent/
  2. http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/roger-goodell-responds-to-president-trumps-colin-kaepernick-comments-032317
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Abdul-Rauf
  4. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  5. Ken Denlinger. “NBA lifts ban after anthem accord.” The Times-Picayune, March 15, 1996, A 1, A 10.
  6. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  7. https://theundefeated.com/features/abdul-rauf-doesnt-regret-sitting-out-national-anthem/

​Poligon Celebrates the Passage of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

​Poligon Celebrates the Passage of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement applauding the passage of the NO BAN Act (H.R. 1333) in the House of Representatives: 

Poligon celebrates the bipartisan passage of the H.R. 1333, the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act in the House of Representatives today, with a final vote count of 218-208. The legislation would prevent future Muslim bans and limit the President’s authority to suspend and restrict immigrants from entering the U.S. based on national origin or religious background. 

Our fight against the Muslim and African travel bans started in 2017 and continues to be an integral part of our advocacy efforts and policy priorities. While President Biden’s repeal of the Muslim Ban on Day One of his administration was a welcoming step, advancing the NO BAN Act in Congress and signing it into law would not only ensure future President’s cannot ban a marginalized community, but also begin to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on the immigrant community in the past 4 years.

As we uplift today’s win in the House, we look towards advancing the bill in the Senate and moving it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. We call on our community members, impacted families, and allies to join us and our coalition partners in securing the NO BAN Act’s passage. The bill’s advancement stopped in the Senate last year, and we cannot allow this to happen again. Tens of thousands of immigrants separated by the Muslim and African bans and Diversity Visa recipients face an unnecessary and cruel burden of having to re-apply for consideration. Immigrants’ lives continue to be at stake. We must make the NO BAN Act a reality and protect Muslim, African, and all marginalized immigrant communities for generations to come.

### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through training, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

​Poligon Demands Systemic Change and Transformative Justice After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

​Poligon Demands Systemic Change and Transformative Justice After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement in response to the April 20th conviction, charging former Officer Derek Chauvin with murder: 

Nine minutes, one year, and a few more minutes. This is what the cycle of police violence and lack of accountability looks like in the United States. Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes before he took Floyd’s life. The system took 330 days to convict Chauvin of a murder the whole world watched, and only a few minutes after the reading of Chauvin’s guilty verdict we learned of another state sanctioned police killing that took the life of 15 year old Ma’Khia Bryant. 

We cannot call the April 20th conviction of Derek Chauvin justice; we call it accountability. Chauvin is only one officer. He is where we start. The whole system must follow for true transformative justice, where George Floyd and Daunte Wright can embrace their daughters and granddaughters. A world where Ma’Khia Bryant and Adam Toledo are not robbed of their childhood. While the jury’s verdict was a historical, surreal moment for many of us, presenting a moment of relief and proof that accountability is possible, it is not lost on us that Chauvin’s conviction does not absolve policing as a whole. It demonstrates that the system, when in danger, will sacrifice one of its own to avoid true accountability and transformation.

We continue to demand justice for Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and the many more young black and brown people who should have been with us today. As allies to the Black-led liberation movement, we reaffirm our unwavering solidarity and fight for racial justice. It is time to protect, center, and listen to our Black siblings as they continue to lead us in the fight for transformative justice. In doing so, we stand firm in holding elected officials to the promises made in 2020 and demanding meaningful policies that divest from violence and invest in our communities. We uplift the Movement for Black Lives’ BREATHE Act, a bold piece of legislation recognizing community power and shifting how we envision community-care and safety. 

Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd and the people who continue to fight in defense of Black and Brown lives. To our Black and Brown siblings who have endured generational and collective trauma, anger, exhaustion and pain as a result of violent policing, we stand by you. We recognize, honor, and hold space for your fight towards collective liberation.

### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through training, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

​COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: CDC & HHS Guidelines & Resources

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Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 Vaccines

With increased vaccine distributions nationwide following the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Poligon is here to provide resources, policy updates, as well as educational content on COVID-19.

[Breaking] Every person age 16 and up can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Have some general questions about receiving the vaccine? 
Read this FAQ from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Read what fully vaccinated people need to know
Read about how to talk to your family and friends about COVID-19

Read about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine when you are uninsured

Here’s where you can find out more about the J&J Vaccine:

No Ban Now, No Ban Ever

With the NO BAN Act in Congress, we have a real chance at ending religious discrimination in immigration laws. Thanks to you, the Muslim & Africa Bans gained traction all the way to Congress. The House Judiciary Committee will consider the NO BAN Act for markup this week, marking a major milestone in our progress towards the passage of this necessary bill.

The American Rescue Plan Explained

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You may have heard of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, a comprehensive legislation known as the “American Rescue Plan”. You may also have questions about this new legislation, and how it will impact you as we continue to navigate living under a global pandemic. 

The American Rescue Plan Explained:

Where does the funding go?
The bill intends to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the following areas:

What is NOT included in the bill?

  • The $15/hour minimum wage was cut from this legislation.
  • Earners above $80k fall outside the income cap for direct financial aid.
  • The Unemployment Insurance benefit was reduced from $400 to $300.

What are the challenges of the bill?

  • The IRS is challenged to administer billions of dollars worth of tax refunds and checks shortly before the tax filing deadline.
  • Many Americans without bank accounts or home addresses do not know they qualify for EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit), CTC (Child Tax Credit), or CDCTC (Child & Dependent Care Tax Credit), delaying their access to direct financial assistance.

Why does the implementation of the bill matter?

If you haven’t already received the $1,400 stimulus payment, you can track your payment via the “Get My Payment” tool at IRS.gov. 

Who is eligible to receive the third payment? People who:

  • Filed a 2020 tax return
  • Filed a 2019 tax return if their 2020 return has not been submitted or processed yet. 
  • Did not file a 2020 or 2019 tax return, but registered for the first Economic Impact Payment using the special Non-Filers portal last year. 
  • Are federal benefit recipients as of December 31, 2020, who do not usually file a tax return and received Social Security and Railroad Retirement Board benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Veteran benefits. 

At Poligon, we advocate for the inclusion of Black, Indigenous, and all people of color in policy decision-making and implementation. We must hold our elected officials accountable for following through on their claims and legislation. While the American Rescue Plan aims for healthy social and economic recovery, we must ensure the application of the American Rescue Plan provides equitable policy measures at the state, local, and federal level for our communities to truly begin to recover from this pandemic. 

Check our COVID-19 Policy Updates Center for more information!

Poligon Condemns Boulder and Atlanta Shootings, Demands Gun Control

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org
Poligon Condemns the Atlanta and Boulder Mass Shootings and Urges Congress to Adopt a Community-Centered Policy Response 
Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement in response to the deadly mass shootings in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th and Boulder, Colorado on March 23rd: 
At a time when our communities are collectively grieving and healing from the deadly anti-Asian violence inflicted on our siblings in Georgia, leaving eight people dead, we find ourselves grieving another heart wrenching loss of ten victims today. We stand in unconditional solidarity with the survivors and families who endure unimaginable pain and call for immediate community centered responses addressing gun violence and race-based hate crimes. We stand firm against all systemic oppression, white supremacy, xenophobia, gender-based violence, and racial and religious discrimination. We demand immediate gun control measures and recognize gun violence as the arm magnifying all forms of hate. Our nation has witnessed seven mass shootings in the past week alone. 
As Congress moves forward to address gun reform, we urge our representatives to look past party divisions and center the victims and survivors in their response. We call on the Senate to pass the Bipartisan Background Check Act and the Enhanced Background Checks Act. All communities deserve to live in safe neighborhoods, without fear and the threat of hate and violence. The Senate Judiciary hearing on gun reform earlier today is a welcome step towards safer communities.
A community centered solution puts people’s safety and lived experiences first. It does not manifest in the form of more militarized and discriminatory law enforcement. We urge our Members of Congress to center the most impacted in their policy responses and invest resources in communities, including but not limited to, mental health services and equitable community services. We reject increased policing, surveillance, and carceral solutions that disproportionately impact Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities.
### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through research, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

February Newsletter

Salaam, and welcome to our February 2021 Newsletter.
Here’s a quick look at our eventful month!
LEGISLATIVE UPDATES
American Rescue Plan Passed in the House
Despite some compromises, the House voted on Saturday to send the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package to the Senate. This bill will increase access to vaccinations, COVID-19 testing, and PPE. It extends Unemployment Insurance, food assistance, and stimulus checks, and provides financial support for small businesses and school reopening plans.

We are getting closer to sending much needed relief to struggling families. Join us and our partners at the Coalition of Human Needs in urging the Senate to pass this relief package.This bill will provide aid to millions of U.S. households – to put more money in the pockets of low to no-income families, cut childhood poverty in half and protect families against eviction and hunger. 

NO BAN Act Reintroduced in Congress 
Poligon joined over 100 Muslim and immigrants’ rights organizations in supporting the reintroduction of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives. We proudly advocated for and endorsed Rep. Judy Chu’s (D-CA-27) introduction of the bill in 2019 and again in the 117th Congress. Read our full statement here.

The bill is currently co-sponsored by 137 Representatives, and is included in the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021.
Tell Congress to Pass the NO BAN Act Today!
CONGRESSIONAL ADVOCACY TRAININGS
Congressional Advocacy Training with Muslim Urban Professionals (Muppies) 
Poligon’s Policy & Advocacy Manager, Johanna Mustafa and Board Member, Nadia Mozaffar delivered one of our signature Congressional Advocacy Trainingsin collaboration with the D.C. chapter of Muppies. Muppies is a global nonprofit organizations dedicated to empowering and advancing Muslim professionals to be leaders in their careers and communities.

Our virtual training highlighted our community’s progress in civic engagement spaces and presented strategic advocacy tools that can help our community build on our collective progress in 2021. To request a training, email us at events@poligonnational.org. Congressional Advocacy Training with the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC)
We partnered with CIOGC, and joined the Council for the launch of their 2021 Congressional Talk Series to deliver an advocacy training for community members in Illinois. Our training shared some of the nuts and bolts of how to be better advocates, including legislation tracking, organizing meetings with Members of Congress, coalition building, and more. Our Policy and Advocacy Manager, Johanna Mustafa, and Training Facilitator, Karimah Whitaker addressed the community alongside Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), and Congresswoman Marie Newman’s (IL-03) Chief of District Affairs, Shadin Maali. To request a training, email us at events@poligonnational.org. 

EVENTS
Celebrating a Faithful Democracy As Black History: A Town Hall Gathering
Poligon joined the Faithful Democracy Coalition in celebrating the impact of Black History on our democracy. Panelists discussed how the For the People Act would carry that history forward with transformational federal democracy reforms. The town hall looked at the racial equity lens of the bill, how it compliments the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the urgency of passage to safeguard our democracy. Watch the virtual town hall here.
Interfaith Leadership Summit
Poligon Policy and Advocacy Manager, Johanna Manager spoke on an interfaith panel addressing religious discrimination. The summit was organized by the Interfaith Council of Metropolitan Washington, and aimed to promote religious freedom, challenge religious discrimination, and enhance community efforts in combating faith-based hate violence. The panel discussion included diverse religious leaders, civil rights organizations, and community members.
#BlackHistoryMonth Highlights
Instagram Takeover with Portland City Councilman Pious Ali 
We were honored to have Councilman Pious Ali of Portland City join us as a guest speaker and takeover our Instagram page for look into a day in his life. He was joined by community leader Adilah Muhammad to reflect on Black Muslim contributions to our past, present, and future. Find the full takeover on our Instagram page!

GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
As we approach the holy month of Ramadan, consider supporting Poligon’s operations and advocacy efforts so that we can sustain our work and better represent the American Muslim community on Capitol Hill! Can you donate $20, $50, or $100 today to help to ensure every American Muslim voice is heard in Congress in 2021?

We thank you for your continued support. 
Join Our Board of Directors
Poligon is seeking a Treasurer to join our Board of Directors. If you are interested in helping us amplify American Muslim voices in Congress, this is the position for you! Please send your resume and a short statement of interest to info@poligonnational.org