The California State Assembly voted to pass a resolution that officially recognizes August 2016 as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month. The resolution comes at a time of increased anti-Muslim rhetoric, according to a recent civil rights report compiled by the California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
HR-59, introduced by California Assembly Member Bill Quirk in June after Quirk was approached by a community activist on the issue, was officially passed Aug. 1 with bipartisan support. "Muslim Americans have made contributions to education, science, entertainment and medicine both nationally and globally," Quirk told NBC News in an email. "Unfortunately, the Muslim community has been, and continues to be, the target of harassment, discrimination and assaults."
He added, "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." CAIR-Sacramento Valley Executive Director Basim Elkarra told NBC News that the passing of the resolution represented a day of hope for the Muslim-American community. He explained that Muslims contribute greatly to the diversity of the nation and the state, carrying various key roles throughout the state of California as engineers, doctors, law enforcement officials, and more. "Muslims participate in every facet of life in California and for them to be appreciated for their contributions ... it's very hopeful for the community when the community is under siege in this election cycle," Elkarra said.
Earlier this week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump suggested that Ghazala Khan, the mother of a U.S. Army captain who was killed in Iraq, did not speak on stage at the Democratic National Convention because "maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say." In response, Muslim-American women on Twitter began using the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow to challenge stereotypes and anti-Muslim rhetoric.