Muslim Awareness Month brings together Muslim, Sikh, South Asian groups for discussion

With August 2016 declared as the first-ever Muslim Awareness Month in California, leading civil rights organizations will unite for discussions on Muslim, Sikh and South Asian American communities and to call for the support of AB 2845, an anti-bullying bill that would provide resources to students discriminated against for religious affiliation.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, which is organizing a “week of action,” said it is calling for Californians to stand with Muslim Americans as they face “incidents of bias increase in our schools and communities.”

This includes the bill, which if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown would make certified school site employees available to students facing bullying, harassment or discrimination based on nationality, race or perceived or actual religious affiliation.

“Pupils who are Muslim, Sikh, or of South Asian descent often face verbal, physical, or online harassment, all of which have significant effects on their academic achievement and mental health,” AB 2845 reads. “Research demonstrates that Muslim, Sikh, and other pupils who face hate-based bias and bullying in school do not report these incidents to school staff, primarily because they believe that school staff are not trained to address these issues.”

Upon the recognition of the month on Aug. 1, Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)’s Sacramento Valley chapter, called the announcement “historic for all Californians” during “these difficult times of increased anti-Muslim and hate incidents.”

State lawmaker Bill Quirk, who proposed the legislation, said he is proud to “honor generations of Muslim Americans for their many social, cultural, and economic contributions to California.”

“The rhetoric surrounding this election makes the presentation of this resolution more important for me,” Quirk said in a statement. “It is appropriate to acknowledge and promote awareness of the myriad invaluable contributions of Muslim Americans in California and across the country, and extend to them the respect and camaraderie every American deserves.”