It is vital that San Jose elected leaders and our regional American Muslim community leaders continue to work together with close communication and learn from each other’s experiences. Last week, American Muslim community leaders raised concerns about Councilmember Sylvia Arenas’ objection to Mayor Sam Liccardo’s trips to Qatar and Egypt, based on her concerns about their governments’ records on women’s rights. When Councilmember Arenas learned about these concerns, she immediately reached out to local community leaders, including those at the Evergreen Islamic Center (EIC) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area (CAIR-SFBA).
The EIC and CAIR-SFBA have a long history of working in partnership with Councilmember Arenas, and we are grateful there was the opportunity to come together to discuss the ongoing political climate and dangerous Islamophobia that impacts the Muslim community – and how that context can best inform objective and equal standards in our analysis. EIC, CAIR-SFBA, and Councilmember Arenas discussed how Muslim women’s rights are under attack in France, and the missed opportunity to similarly elevate that issue when Mayor Liccardo traveled there earlier this year.
Elected officials should always ensure that their international travel does not validate oppression against women or anyone else anywhere in the world. While Councilmember Arenas believes in always speaking up on issues that impact women, she appreciates the concerns raised and the importance of not doing anything that could further stereotypes.
The American Muslim community welcomes Councilmember Arenas’ vote this week in support of the Mayor’s upcoming trip and her ongoing partnership with the communities she serves.