In 2021 there was a change of the guard in Washington, D.C., but this change was preceded by an unprecedented insurrection on Capitol Hill and a second impeachment of former President Trump. Arab Americans and Muslims made headlines on the national level with the first Muslim appointed to the federal bench and the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case on FBI surveillance of Muslims. Michigan’s Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud made history in Washington D.C.
Insurrection on Capitol Hill
On Jan. 6, thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol building during the 2020 presidential election certification, resulting in five deaths, 14 officers being injured and more than 50 arrests.
Police evacuated the House of Representatives and the Senate as the protesters marched through the halls of Congress, forcing both chambers to suspend deliberations. The events unfolded after former President Trump addressed the protesters, repeating false claims that the election was stolen from him due to widespread election fraud.
Impeached again: Trump becomes first president to be impeached twice
President Trump became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) brought the impeachment to a vote just a week after Trump supporters rampaged the U.S. Capitol. Trump was accused of using his bully pulpit to encourage some of his violent supporters to besiege the Capitol.
Biden takes the helm
As Joe Biden was sworn into office as president, he followed through with some of his big sweeping day one promises. He signed 15 executive actions shortly after his inauguration, including ending the travel ban put in place by former President Trump on people from a list of Muslim-majority countries. The U.S. State Department was also instructed to restart visa applications for those countries, including Yemen.
Biden administration appoints local Arab American to the U.S. Dept of Labor
A former staff member of U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) became the first Arab American to serve in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs. Ahmad Ramadan was appointed to the position by the Biden administration.
Harvard Law Review elects first Arab American Muslim president, First female Arab American to compete at NASCAR
The Harvard Law Review named a Los Angeles-born Egyptian American, Hassaan Shahawy, to be what it believed is the first Muslim president in its 134-year history.
Toni Breidinger, 21, became the first Arab American female driver to compete in a NASCAR national series. Breidinger’s mother was born in Beirut and she has family in Lebanon.
Derek Chauvin guilty as charged
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all charges, including second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. On May 25, 2020, a video captured Chauvin, a White police officer, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes while Floyd called out for his mom and repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”
Senate confirms first Muslim federal judge in U.S. history
The U.S. Senate approved President Biden’s nomination of Zahid Quraishi, a magistrate judge from New Jersey, to the federal bench, making him the first Muslim federal judge in U.S. history. Quraishi serves as U.S. district judge for the District of New Jersey. He is the son of Pakistani immigrants and is a former federal and military prosecutor.
U.S. Supreme Court to hear case on FBI surveillance of Muslims
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to look at a decade-long class-action case involving the FBI’s use of an informant to spy on several mosques in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. For more than a year, the FBI planted an informant in the mosques and instructed him to coerce and gather information from mosque-goers and community members while he posed as a mosque attendee and encouraged others to join him in expressing extremist views, attempted to gather compromising information on members to recruit more informants and more.
9/11: Muslim Americans 20 years later
Twenty years later, the Muslim community in the U.S. and abroad reflected on the legacy of the U.S. response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. A major feature of post 9/11 federal policy was its approach to counter-terrorism through the bending and breaking of civil liberties, an unprecedented expansion of surveillance apparatus and disastrous military campaigns in the Middle East.
Minnesota mosque bomber sentenced to life in prison
Federal prosecutors announced a 53-year life sentence for Emily Claire Hari, formerly Michael Hari, for the 2017 bombing of the Dar-al-Farooq (DAF) Islamic Center in Bloomington Minnesota.
Fadwa Hammoud makes history in Washington, D.C.
Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud made history as the first Arab American Muslim woman to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing on behalf of the state in the case of Brown v. Davenport. The case in which Hammoud argued concerns the 2007 conviction of Ervine Davenport in Kalamazoo Circuit Court. Davenport had strangled Annette White to death, threw her body in a field, then went to her apartment and stole her property, and later bragged that he “offed” her. Davenport was shackled at trial, but the court failed to place on the record the reasons why he was shackled.
Drunk driving detection systems mandatory in new vehicles by 2026 in honor of Abbas family
A Northville family of five killed by a drunk wrong-way driver on I-75 in Kentucky in 2019 were honored as President Biden passed the Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate (HALT) Drunk Driving Act, which will require drunk driving detection systems to be installed in new vehicles by 2026.
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