On Thursday, San Diego Attorney General Rob Bonta told members of San Diego’s Arab and Muslim community that he is working to increase the inclusion of immigrants in California while simultaneously fighting rising hate crime.
“We know there has been an increase in hate crimes and Islamophobia,” he said, promising to fight it as “the people’s attorney.”
Speaking at the fifth annual community dinner organized by the San Diego Arab and Muslim Community Outreach Forum, Bonta listed a number of steps taken by the California Department of Justice to address hate crime.
These include a new Racial Justice Bureau, a hate crime coordinator and an Office of Community Awareness, Engagement and Response. But the state can’t do it all, he said, so targeted communities must stand up.
“I believe that we are not destined to be bystanders and spectators of a world that looks more violent and extreme,” he said.
Bonta told the the crowd at Sufi Mediterranean Cuisine in Clairemont that he understands their concerns because of his own immigrant past. He was born in the Philippines and brought to America because, he said, his parents wanted to raise their family in a democracy.
“As I look across this room I see the faces of America,” he said. “I see your beautiful diversity.”
One of those community members was Hasan Ikhrata, CEO of SANDAG, who spoke about his experience as an immigrant.
“I’m proud of being an Arab American,” he said. “I’m also proud that I live in a country that allows me to say this.”
Other speakers discussed the achievements of Arab and Muslim Americans, including their impact on the economy, but also the increase in hate crime and the challenge of teaching Arab and Muslim history in public schools.
California has the largest Arab and Muslim community of any state and is the leader in refugee resettlement.
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