An Islamic holy book in Arabic. Courtesy CAIR

We are in the midst of one of the most disruptive times in human history, and one of the hardest parts of this for me has been watching families forced to stay apart during times when they normally come together to reflect and celebrate.

Ramadan, which ends Saturday evening, is one of those times. Muslim families who usually come together for Iftar to break fast and congregate at mosques for the evening prayer now find themselves apart from loved ones during this holy month. The shared images we’ve seen of millions of Muslims practicing and reflecting despite the challenges that we are all facing, including in my own City Council district, are inspiring.

But isolation is not the only challenge that many in the American Islamic community are facing.

Increasing violence and hate speech threatens the safety of Muslims here and abroad. As the LGBTQ daughter of Mexican immigrants who grew up in Barrio Logan, I have a deep understanding of the bigotry and hatred that infects a tiny but vocal minority.

And in the current presidential administration, it comes right from the top. Donald Trump has trafficked in Islamophobic conspiracies, pushed a discriminatory Muslim ban, and even stated that “Islam hates us.“

It is no coincidence that Donald Trump’s election corresponded with a spike in hate crimes, because white nationalists, Islamophobes, and other bigoted individuals have supported him since his first day on the campaign trail, when he openly peddled racist stereotypes about Latinos.

But the fear and insecurity that Muslims are facing is not unique to this country.

In 2017, the world did not act while the Rohingya were subjected to ethnic violence that could meet the standards for genocide. The ongoing detention and cultural genocide of the Uhygurs in China risks the lives and culture of over 30 million people.

Georgette Gómez. Photo by Chris Stone

A concern to many in the Muslim community is the future of the Palestinian people and a Palestinian state.

The new Israeli government formed by Prime Minister Netanyahu appears ready to undertake unilateral annexation of territories in the West Bank, a move which the Trump administration appears ready to recognize. This is not the first time that Netanyahu and Trump have taken actions that could seriously damage the prospects for peace.

At the core of the hope for lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinian people is the potential of a two-state solution.

Annexation of parts of the West Bank will do nothing to further the prospects for peace and endanger the possibility for two viable states. We need to do everything in our power to bring Israelis and Palestinians together to advance peace, human rights and security in the region. Unilateral actions toward annexation and expansion of isolated settlements, are serious mistakes that make peace harder to achieve.

I strongly support restoring U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority. This vital funding was recklessly cut by the Trump administration to the detriment of peace and human rights. Cutting funding has added to the urgent and looming humanitarian crises stemming from the spread of COVID-19. Expanding opportunity, fairness, and hope in the Palestinian territories is an essential step towards peace — and in keeping with America’s best values.

Likewise, we must be honest with all our friends in the Middle East when hard conversations are necessary. In this pandemic it was disappointing to see the Palestinian Authority refuse a shipment of COVID-19 aid from the United Arab Emirates because it arrived through an Israeli airport. This is no time to be denying humanitarian aid to anyone and the incident is indicative of all that needs to change in the region.

Here in the San Diego region we have a thriving Muslim community, many of whom live in my City Council district. I have strongly supported the resettlement of East African refugees, and have witnessed the strong resiliency of the Muslim community in the face of hateful rhetoric and policies coming out of Washington.

I am proud of my work with  the community and that will continue when I am elected to Congress. I  look forward to the continued collaboration with Muslim community leaders that makes San Diego an even better place to live and work. My best wishes as you celebrate the end of Ramadan.

Georgette Gómez is President of the San Diego City Council and represents District 9. She is a candidate for Congress in the 53rd District in November.

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