Redistricting Reform: The Fight Continues
"Most of Indiana's rural counties have lost people while Central Indiana has continued to grow in population size over the last decade", according to the U.S. Census 2020 data that has been released last week. With this report, the Indiana General Assembly is closer to redraw statehouse and congressional maps for the next decade. Public testimonies were held across the state, giving the opportunity to Hoosiers to share their perspective on the redistricting process with the House and Senate Election committees.
All IN 4 Democracy has been sounding the alarm on this important issue for the last few years. As we approach the final stretch, the coalition members have been very active in raising awareness on how gerrymandering threatens our democracy and disenfranchises voters across the state. They continue to advocate for fair maps that allow competitiveness and preserve communities of interest together.
You too can take action! Sign our petition and demand legislators to draw fair maps.
Also, the coalition plans an action packed week from August 30- September 3. Make sure you participate and get your voice heard.
On September 1st, IMAN Associates will bring the Muslim voice to the Faith Leaders Press Conference. Faith leaders will call on legislators to use the upcoming redistricting process as a vehicle to perpetuate democracy in our state, rather than subverting it. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates on this action-packed week!
Get On Board
The organization is gearing up for its 2021 Board of Directors Elections. We extend our appreciation to community members who nominated themselves and/or other community members. Ballots will be sent out in the next week, so please be on the lookout!
We are grateful to see the engagement and support of the community throughout the process, and excited about the next chapter.
Congressional Advocacy 101 TrainingC
In collaboration with Poligon National, IMAN Associates is excited to
bring Muslim Hoosiers a virtual training that will empower them with
tools that will help them get their voice heard on capitol hill.
On Thursday, August 26th, Poligon's Policy and Advocacy
Manager, Johanna Mustafa, and board member, Nadia Mozaffar, will
walk the attendees through the best practices and emerging trends
of advocacy and take their questions.
Register for FREE and learn how to engage your Congress member
on issues that matter to you!
The All IN 4 Democracy coalition is ramping up its advocacy efforts in anticipation of the upcoming redistricting process. In the past few months, and with the help of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, the coalition has been educating Hoosiers on the ramifications of gerrymandered districts and its negative impact on our democracy.
Our friends at Women 4 Change Indiana, under the leadership of Executive Director Rima Shahid, have commissioned Dr. Christopher Warshaw, a tenured associate professor of political science at George Washington University, to analyze "Indiana's 2011 legislative and congressional maps based on 50 years of state and national data and on several accepted metrics for fairness." The study found that Indiana's maps are "more biased towards one party than 95% of all U.S. districting plans for which data is available enacted over the last 50 years."
If you feel Hoosiers deserve FAIR MAPS, you can urge the Indiana General Assembly to conduct a fair and transparent redistricting process. Here are two ways for you to get involved:
1. Sign IMAN Associates' petition to demand Indiana lawmakers to draw fair maps. We need competitive legislative districts that prioritize communities of interest together.
2. Participate in All IN 4 Democracy "Gerrymander Meander Votercade" tomorrow, July 17th, at 2pm. Participants will meet at North United Methodist Church, 3808 N. Meridian, in the parking lot. We’ll drive in a caravan up Meridian Street, by the Governor’s residence, to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on 86th Street, where we’ll celebrate with birthday cake and ice cream.
The father, and namesake of gerrymandering, former Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry was born on July 17th so this votercade is a public event calling for an end to the practice he originated. It is one way to keep the pressure on for fair redistricting and remind our fellow citizens that redistricting still has to happen this year. RSVP now!
General Body Meeting
On May 23rd, IMAN Associates held its signature event “General Body Meeting.” Muslim community members got together to listen from the first Muslim American State Senator Fady Qaddoura about his experience in his first legislative session. Also, they heard from our guest speaker, State Rep. Cherrish Pryor, who shed a light on important legislation that the IBLC championed in the past legislative session, and asked her questions on the bills that the IBLC opposed.
In an attempt to capture our community’s latest legislative priorities, the attendees were surveyed on a number of topics and engaged in a discussion on those issues. You also can apprise us of your legislative priorities by completing this survey.
We thank our guests for their participation and we look forward to engaging with them soon.
Standing in Support of Congressman Andre´ Carson
Last month, the world witnessed Palestinians being forcibly removed from the homes they have been living in for generations in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, Muslim worshippers being attacked by Israeli forces in the Dome of the Rock, and an escalation between the Israeli forces and Hamas that caused the loss of more than 60 children and 30 women in Gaza. Those tragic incidents happening thousands of miles away from Indiana had touched the lives of our constituents. Thousands of Muslim, Christian, Jews, Black, Brown and White Hoosiers took to the streets in Indianapolis and protested against the disproportionate use of force against Palestinians, called for an immediate de-escalation of violence and demanded right of self-determination for Palestinians.
IMAN Associates issued a statement in support of the U.S. Congressman Andre´ Carson’s stance on the recent escalation of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. Also, it mobilized the Muslim community in Indianapolis to contact their city councilors and urge them to learn more about the conflict before taking a stance on this foreign policy issue. 68 letters that include credible resources on the history of the conflict were sent to Indianapolis City Councillors. We will seek further opportunities to educate the Indiana legislature and other elected officials on the conflict.
A Prayer For Democracy
On June 7th, IMAN Associates, a member of the All IN for Democracy coalition for redistricting reform, joined other organizations in holding “Prayer for Democracy: Bringing Faith Communities into the Redistricting Conversation.”
Common Cause Indiana, Faith in Indiana, League of Women Voters Indiana, Citizens Action Coalition, the Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation and IMAN associates held the virtual webinar to bring attention among Indiana faith communities to the upcoming redistricting process. Our Public Policy Advisor, Hazem Bata, participated in the event and urged attendees to take action on the issue.
This report from the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission underscores that Hoosiers want more competitive legislative districts that prioritize communities of interest together. As our lawmakers prepare to draw the district maps for the next decade of elections, we must demand that they draw fair maps. Will you add your voice to our petition?
Prayer for Democracy: Bringing Your Faith Community into the Redistricting Conversation
Please join us on Monday, June 7, noon to 1 p.m. to discuss why faith communities should care about redistricting, and how to talk with your legislators about redistricting from a faith perspective.If you believe that everyone counts, we invite you to this virtual event about a process crucial to our democracy.
Register here: http://bit.ly/PrayerForDemocracy
All IN For Democracy
Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network
Common Cause Indiana
Faith in Indiana
League of Women Voters of Indiana
Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation
Citizens Action Coalition
The Indiana General Assembly takes a break
The Indiana General Assembly adjourned yesterday, only to re-convene in the fall for a special session to draw the maps. Redistricting, which uses census data, will determine the congressional, state and local districts for the next ten years.
From empty halls to restricted public testimonies, it was a legislative session like no other. However, your support has helped IMAN Associates team to continue its advocacy and amplify the Muslim voice on the following issues:
Speaking Out Against AAPI Hate
On April 15, 2021, IMAN Associates Executive Director, Hiba Alami, joined community organizations and elected officials in a Candlelit Vigil to honor the victims of the Atlanta shooting and amplify the call to stop Asian hate.
Organized by NAPAWF Indiana and Go Vote Indy, the event was held at St. Luke's United Methodist Church and was live streamed on Facebook. IndyStar captured tender moments in its coverage of the event.
A Statement Against the Horrific Fedex Shooting
On the heels of the horrific Fedex shooting that took place on the early hours of April 16, IMAN Associates, with the Central Indiana mosques and Islamic organizations, issued a joint statement condemning such a heart rendering crime and calling on the Indiana General Assembly to pass common sense gun control legislation that ban automatic assault weapons, as well as improve gun safety laws that protect Hoosiers and stand in the way of losing more lives.
We stand in solidarity and grief with the Sikh community and the families who lost loved ones. If you want to take action and support the families of the victims, please visit Indianapolis Fedex Shooting Fundraisers.
Ask the Indiana General Assembly to protect Hoosiers’ voting rights
One of the bills that has been on IMAN Associates’ watch list is Senate Bill353. This bill is currently pending in the House Committee on Election and Apportionment. It is on schedule to be heard on April 6, 2021.
We rise in opposition to this bill because it restricts Hoosier's ability to vote and does not withstand even modest scrutiny. SB353 (among other things) requires Hoosiers to present proof of citizenship when voting. On the surface this seems reasonable; after all, only citizens are allowed to vote. However, proof of citizenship is already required when registering to vote. Requiring proof of citizenship again when voting has been shown to disproportionately decrease voting among the poor and ethnic minorities. This is unacceptable.
SB353 is a solution in search of a problem. There is no evidence of significant voting-fraud in Indiana or any other state for that matter. SB353 needlessly and unfairly restricts voting and does not pass scrutiny.
IMAN Associates Public Policy Advisor, Hazem Bata, will testify against it during the committee hearing. You too can take action. Contact your legislator today and urge them to vote NO on this bill.
Hoosier Action’s “Reclaim Our Future” Event:
On March 23, 2021, Hoosier Action held an interfaith vigil and a call to action at the Indiana Statehouse. “Reclaim Our Future” event provided a space for Hoosiers to grieve the loss of their loved ones to the pandemic in the past year, and to urge legislators to pass legislation that helps them recover from this crisis.
State Senator Fady Qaddoura attended the event to “stand with all Hoosiers in mourning for those we have lost and in solidarity for those who are struggling.”
IMAN Associates supported this event and reached out to Imam Michael Saahir, Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center, to uplift the voice of the Muslim community during the event. Featured on the Indy Star, WLFI and WishTV, Imam Saahir participated in the interfaith vigil and shared comforting words that reflect the Islamic tradition. We thank Hoosier Action for bringing Hoosiers together safely and Imam Michael Saahir for taking part in the event.
Justice Reform Bill: A Step in the Right Direction
On Tuesday, March 9, 2021, Hazem Bata, IMAN Associates Public Policy Advisor, testified in support of HB1006, which requires de-escalation training and aims at mending the relationship between the public and law enforcement.
Alongside IMAN Associates, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Indianapolis Urban League, and the Indiana Black Expo noted their support for the bill during the Senate committee hearing. The Statehouse File quoted Br. Hazem's testimony in their report on the bill.
Touted as historic, the bill garnered bipartisan support and passed the House and the Senate chambers with unanimous approval. It headed to the Governor’s desk for his approval.
We are grateful for the opportunity to support a bill that galvanized many organizations, individuals and law enforcement officers across the state to work together to advance justice reform in Indiana.
IBLC Call to Action Days
On the heels of the incivility that took place in the flour chamber on February 18, 2021, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus has organized Call to Action Days at the Statehouse, where supporters joined the caucus members in solidarity with them.
On March 9, 2021, Hiba Alami, IMAN Associates Executive Director, and Hazem Bata, IMAN Associates Public Policy Advisor, participated in the "Call to Action" alongside NAACP, the Indiana Minority Health Coalition and other organizations and citizens from around the state. IMAN Associates, and the other present organizations, were recognized by Rep. Cherrish Pryor on Facebook.
You can also take action and show your support to the IBLC by signing this petition.
Evictions and Housing Disparities Event
On March 13, 2021, IMAN Associates, in collaboration with Indianapolis Muslim Community Association and Masjid Al-Mumineen, hosted a community event to address “Evictions and Housing Disparities: A Crisis in the Works.”Attendees heard from Amy Nelson, Executive Director of Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, about the housing challenges faced by Hoosiers on a daily basis, and how the pandemic has led to a sky high number of eviction filings and aggravated the existing housing disparities. Also, they heard from Imam Ismail Abdul-Aleem and Imam Ahmed Alamine on the importance of housing and how Indiana Muslims need to prioritize this issue and get involved in legislative advocacy to improve the housing scene in Indiana. Our Executive Director, Hiba Alami, concluded the event with a list of resources available to help Hoosiers with rental and utility assistance.
Missed the event? You can watch the recording on our facebook page.
Hoosier Action’s “Reclaim Our Future” Event
March 23rd marks the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 lockdown in our state and the beginning of one of the hardest years any of us can remember. In the past year, we’ve lost nearly 13,000 lives, hundreds of thousands of jobs, and so much more. Join Hoosier Action, IMAN Associates and other organizations for a socially-distanced vigil on the Statehouse lawn to mourn everyone and everything we lost and call on Indiana General Assembly to ensure that all Hoosiers are able to recover from this crisis.
The program will include an interfaith vigil, in which Imam Michael Saahir, Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center, will participate and uplift the voice of the Muslim community. A press conference will follow and feature Hoosier Action leaders sharing their stories and calling on the Indiana General Assembly to honor our losses and legislate on our behalf.
Limiting the Use of Force of Local Law Enforcement
The 2021 legislative session has witnessed a number of bills that aim at negatively impacting the existing oversight structures for local police departments. An example is Senate Bill 311, which gives police officers almost complete discretion in using force, including deadly force. It also allows them to ignore department policy on how much force to use. Further, the bill prevents departments, cities and counties from restricting an officer's discretion on the use of force.
We believe this bill is bad for the people of Indiana because it goes against our system of checks and balances. Checks and balances are essential to a free society. This bill is out of balance because it removes most checks on an officer's discretion to use force. Even the officer's own police department would not be able to enforce protocol on the use of force in many cases.
Fortunately the troublesome language was removed from the bill at its last hearing on February 16. Hazem Bata, IMAN Associates Policy Advisor, attended the hearing to testify in opposition to the bill. However, since the harmful language was removed our position was neutral.
Silencing the voices of Black Legislators
On February 18, 2021, Rep. Greg Porter and Rep. Vernon Smith, two members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, were booed by fellow legislators while speaking against bill HB1367, which would allow residents to leave the racially diverse South Bend school system and become part of a mostly white neighboring district. The bill narrowly passed with 52-43 votes.
Adorned by his African garb to celebrate the Black History month on that day, Rep. Smith shared afterwards that “The legislature is known for its institutional racism.” The IBLC came out strong and issued a statement condemning the disrespectful behavior from Republican members. In a press conference, Rep. Robin Shackleford, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) chair, asked House Speaker Todd Huston for all legislators to receive Implicit Bias Training. In fact, the IBLC has started a petition “urging accountability for the mistreatment of Black legislators.” Also, Caucus members are organizing a “Call to Action” days at the Indiana Statehouse, where supporters can show up in solidarity with them. Call to Action days started last week and will continue throughout the next week.
IMAN Associates has issued a statement denouncing the lack of decorum and civility in the statehouse, and urging legislators to rediscover respect for the diverse perspectives of all members of the Indiana General Assembly. We urge our members to support the members of the IBLC and sign the petition.
Anti-Asian violence spiked nationwide
While our nation has been reeling for the last year from the pandemic, Asian Americans have been the victims of hateful incidents across the U.S., including the Indiana Asian American community members. They have been the target of xenophobic attacks, ranging from “verbal bullying and micro aggressions to outright assaults and lethal violence.”
The Indiana chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) is launching a campaign to speak out against the spike of violent attacks and urge Governor Holcomb to take official action to condemn the bigotry. Please sign this petition in solidarity with the Asian American community and share it with others.
Evictions and Housing Disparities: A Crisis in the Works
A global health and economic crisis has numerous repercussions on an already challenged housing scene in Indiana. To that point, IMAN Associates, in collaboration with IMCA and Masjid Al-Mumineen, is hosting “Evictions and Housing Disparities: A Crisis in the Works” on March 13, 2021 at 2PM.
We will hear from Amy Nelson, the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, about the unfolding situation of housing insecurity and disparities in Indiana, and the resources currently available to help Hoosiers navigate the housing challenges.
The event is free but registration is required. Register here.
The 2021 legislative session is wrapping up its 6th week, with a number of committees rushing to schedule the hearings of their assigned bills before the session’s midpoint. Deadline for bills to receive its 3rd reading is the 2/22 in the House chamber and the 2/23 in the Senate chamber. Bills that don’t receive their 3rd reading are considered dead for this session.
The majority of the bills that IMAN Associates were monitoring didn’t get a hearing and most likely they are dead for this session. HB1185: Anti-bullying bill (Porter) didn’t receive its 2nd hearing in the House Committee on Education. Rep. Greg Porter, a champion for anti-bullying legislation, “filed an amendment to add language to HB1005 (Behning) requiring charter and voucher schools to adopt anti-bullying practices. The amendment was voted down in committee.” We plan to work closely with Rep. Porter and provide needed support to bring this bill back in 2022.
However, we identified two bills that can negatively impact Indiana Muslims, communities of color and Hoosiers at large if passed.
SB311: Use of Force (Baldwin) gives police officers full discretion in using deadly force. The bill prevents city and county officials, even the officer's own police department, from enforcing protocol or standards on the use of deadly force.
SB353: Various Election Law Matters (Houchin) requires a proof of citizenship when registering to vote. We oppose this bill since it leads to voter suppression, and disenfranchisement of communities of color, immigrants and refugees. The cost associated with obtaining a birth certificate or a proof of citizenship will place a barrier for low income voters to exercise their civic duty. It also impedes our grassroots organizing, especially when we hold voter registration drives in mosques and community centers.
We need your help! Contact committee chairs and let them know you oppose those bills.
SB311: Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law Chair: Sen. Michael Young
Copy and paste the following text and send it to Sen. Young’s legislative Assistant at Madalynn.Conner@iga.in.gov. Give him a call at 317-232-9517 and urge him to vote NO on SB311.
Dear Senator Michael Young,
In the wake of the police brutality that our nation witnessed recently, I am appalled to see a bill like SB311 proposed in the Indiana General Assembly. The bill gives police officers full discretion in using deadly force. It allows police officers to use deadly force whenever the officer felt it justified and no individual or agency could tell the officer otherwise. Communities of color, who are consistently the victims of racial profiling, will suffer the most if this bill passes.
Also, the bill strips away the process of checks and balances, which is central to our democracy. Every official or branch of government is kept in check by another. However, SB311 removes any checks from an officer's use of deadly force and therefore puts our legal system out of balance. Local officials and police departments should be able to create protocol on the use of deadly force. To prevent them from doing so is a danger to the public.
I urge you to vote NO on SB311.
SB353: Senate Committee on Elections Chair: Sen. Jon Ford
Copy and paste the following text and email it to Sen. Jon Ford at Senator.Ford@iga.in.gov. Give him a call at 317-232-9400 and let him know you oppose SB353.
Dear Senator Jon Ford,
I’m deeply concerned about SB353 and the unnecessary barriers it creates. The cost associated with obtaining a birth certificate or a proof of citizenship will hinder many low-income voters from exercising their civic duty. It can lead to the disenfranchisement of communities of color and the elderly. When Indiana consistently ranks in the bottom ten in voting, I expect the Indiana General Assembly to enact laws that increase voter turnout and not further suppress it.
I join other Hoosiers in their opposition to SB 353. I urge you to vote NO on this bill.
The Hendricks County Commissioners rejected the rezoning of Clermont Village
In an unexpected move, the Hendricks County Commissioners rejected the recommendations of the Hendricks County Area Plan Commission to rezone Clermont Village in the 2/9/2021 public hearing. The Commissioners voted 3-0 to deny the application, citing environmental concerns.
The Commissioners’ decision was shocking to Elizabeth Link, the owner’s developer, especially after spending the last few months working hard to address the commissioners’ outstanding concerns.
Matt Callahan, Muslim Advocates senior staff attorney who has been providing guidance and support to Alhussnain Seminary leadership, condemned the decision and warned Hendricks County of an “expensive and unnecessary religious discrimination lawsuit.”
Local media, including Indystar and WRTV, covered this story.
Mosque faces Opposition
Masjid E Noor, located on 5355 Lafayette Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46254, is looking for a new home for its seminary, Alhussnain, in Clermont Village, Brownsburg, IN. The proposed project will offer a safe, walkable community where all people can live, work, worship and study freely. Given that a very anti-Muslim petition has sprung up to oppose the project, IMAN Associates has joined forces with Muslim Advocates to ensure that Muslim Hoosiers receive a fair and impartial evaluation of their application.
The weekend prior to the public hearing, IMAN Associates sent a blast text to Hendricks County residents to garner their support. We also reached out to Brownsburg residents on social media and rallied them behind the cause. Our efforts have resulted in over 700 letters in support to be sent to the Hendricks County Board of Zoning Appeals. Furthermore, we lined up faith leaders and members to testify at the hearing. Both letters and testimonies echoes welcoming sentiments from Brownsburg residents who believed that Clermont Village will enrich Brownsburg’s religious diversity and build its tax base.
The Hendricks County Area Plan Commission voted to recommend the rezoning application be approved with a 4-3 vote sending the proposal to the county commissioners. Local media outlets, including IndyStar, WFYI, WishTV, WTHR13, and WRTV, covered the story. We want to thank everyone who sent a letter, testified in the hearing, shared our social media posts, and stood in solidarity with Muslim Hoosiers.
A legislative session like no other!
Convening a general assembly during a pandemic can be challenging! The 2021 legislative session started on January 4 with legislators attending sessions in-person. However, members of the public testifying on a bill must do so in person at the Capital building. They can testify on the floor or from a separate room via video.
As the second week of the session has come to an end, roughly 580 bills have been proposed in the House, and 420 bills have been proposed in the Senate. Here is a quick run down of the bills we are monitoring this legislative session:
A. HB1131 - BIAS MOTIVATED CRIMES (BOY, P)
B. HB1185 - BULLYING (PORTER, G)
C. HB1209 - BIAS MOTIVATED CRIMES (PORTER, G)
D. SB192 - LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING (TAYLOR, G)
E. HB1440 - RESETTLEMENT OF REFUGEES (DELANEY, E)
Hazem Bata, IMAN Associates Public Policy Advisor, is attending weekly meetings with the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and Indiana Coalition for Human Services. Those weekly meetings help advocacy organizations connect and coordinate their lobbying efforts to take action on different proposed bills.
Check our newsletters for the latest updates at the Indiana Statehouse and upcoming events in the Muslim community.