After a six-year hiatus, U.S. President Joe Biden last week resumed the 22-year-old tradition of hosting an Eid celebration at the White House.
“Muslims make our nation stronger every single day, even as they still face real challenges and threats in our society, including targeted violence and Islamophobia that exists,” Biden told a group of prominent Muslims.
Biden’s comments marked a significant change of tone from his predecessor, Donald Trump, who said in 2016, “I think Islam hates us.”
Trump did not host a White House Eid celebration while president, though he did issue statements marking the annual Muslim festival and invited diplomats from Muslim-majority nations to the White House for iftar dinner during Ramadan in 2018 and 2019.
The shift in the White House’s tone comes at a time when U.S. Muslims fear Islamophobia is on the rise.
Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported a 9% increase in the number of civil rights complaints it received from Muslims in the United States since 2020.
“CAIR received a total of 6,720 complaints nationwide involving a range of issues including immigration and travel, discrimination, law enforcement and government overreach, hate and bias incidents, incarceree rights, school incidents, and anti-BDS/free speech,” the report said. BDS refers to the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement that seeks to advance social change through economic pressure.
Huzaifa Shahbaz, an author of the report, told VOA the rise in complaints about Islamophobia coincided with the lifting of COVID-related restrictions and the reopening of workplaces, worship centers and restaurants.
Others echo CAIR’s findings and point to other reasons as well.
“Over the last year, we’ve seen racism in the United States rise across the board as a consequence of the pandemic, the intensification of white supremacist groups, political polarization, and even though we have Trump out of the office, this rising climate of racism is still feeding the Islamophobia that exists really heavily in the United States,” said Khaled Beydoun, a law professor at Wayne State University.