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A Texas lawmaker is demanding Muslims swear allegiance next to an Israeli flag

Zack Beauchamp is a senior correspondent at Vox, where he covers ideology and challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad. Before coming to Vox in 2014, he edited TP Ideas, a section of Think Progress devoted to the ideas shaping our political world.

Texas State Representative Molly White (R-Belton) is, according to a report in the Texas Tribune, making Muslim visitors to her office swear allegiance to America next to an Israeli flag — on Texas's Muslim Capitol Day.

Texas Muslim Capitol Day is an event organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in which Muslim Texans travel to Austin to learn about political activism and meet with state representatives. Rep. White is marking the day with a special message for any Muslims who dare cross the threshold of her office:

molly white

Meanwhile, protestors outside the State Capitol building were holding signs with messages like "Save America, Stop Islam" and "Go Home and Take Obama with You."

texas anti-muslim protestors

(Alexa Ura/Texas Tribune)

The implication from White's message seems to be that she assumed all Muslim-Americans are in fact enemies of the United States unless they first prove otherwise, that they support terrorism, and that the Israeli flag is some sort of kryptonite that will ward them off.

What's especially troubling about all this — aside from the bigoted expectation that American Muslims are disloyal until proven otherwise — is that it's part of a broader trend to indulge and foment mainstream anti-Muslim sentiment in American statehouses.

Since 2010, eight US states have passed legislation prohibiting the use of "foreign law" or "sharia law" in American courts. At least 25 states have considered such laws. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called for a federal equivalent.

Though these state laws often use neutral language, the clear intent is to single out Islamic law — which in reality has a number of interpretations and is in no way being imposed on Americans — as a threat to the American way of lifeThe father of this legislation, a lawyer named David Yerushalmi, once wrote that "the Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies."

Yerushalmi is hardly alone. He's part of a broader activist network arguing that American Muslims pose a threat to American freedoms. Likeminded groups received about $42.6 million in external funding between 2001 and 2009, according to a Center for American Progress report (I worked at CAP, though after this report was published.)

So anti-Muslim sentiment in the Texas statehouse isn't an isolated incident. It's a part of a nationwide problem of activism deliberately directed at marginalizing America's 2.6 million Muslim citizens.

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