One year ago, Donald Trump told an NBC News reporter that he would “absolutely” require all Muslims in the United States to register in a federal database. This past week, that campaign promise was renewed when a member of Trump’s transition team, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, told Reuters that the administration is thinking of reviving the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS).
NSEERS was created by President George W. Bush’s administration in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Under the program, men over the age of sixteen on non-immigrant visas from countries considered terrorist havens were required to undergo fingerprinting, interviews, and regular check-ins at immigration offices. Twenty-four of the twenty-five countries on the list were Muslim-majority states.
Because NSEERS officially targeted people based on their country of origin, rather than their religion, it was legal and did not breach their constitutional right to freedom of religion. But, even though NSEERS did not explicitly focus on Muslims, it disproportionately affected members of that faith.
A new bill in Israel is now doing something similar. Commonly referred to as the “muezzin bill,” it would officially ban the use of loudspeakers by houses of worship across Israel, supposedly to reduce “noise pollution.” The only religious institutions that commonly use loudspeakers are mosques, five times a day for the call to prayer.
Jewish Home Party MP Jeremy Saltan barely masked the bills intentions when he told Al Jazeera: “There happens to be one religion that does, if you will, disturb the peace a little bit more than some of the others. But this bill is written for everyone.”
In the week after the bill was introduced to the Israeli Knesset for debate, Christian Palestinians set an example for their American coreligionists, with churches ringing their bells for the Muslim call to prayer and priests performing the adhan during worship services:
Church of Kafr Kuna in Palestine ring their bells after Friday prayer to show solidarity with Muslims since Israel wants to ban the athan 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/XoLfguoRio
— Ameera (@ameeritalsham) November 18, 2016
While a law limiting noise pollution is legal, one that targets a single religion is not. While a law monitoring people from certain countries is (technically) legal, one that disproportionately affects one religious group should not be.
I hope that non-Muslim Americans step up as loudly and visibly for their Muslim neighbors as these Palestinians have for theirs.
What YOU Can Do:
Sign the pledge to register as a Muslim, should Donald Trump implement a new registry.
Call your elected officials. If you don’t think that reaching out to your state and local officials does anything, take a look at this Twitter thread from a former Congressional staffer. Then find your federal, state, and local elected officials’ contact information here and tell them what you think!