Reports are surfacing that Donald Trump's administration might be planning to register Muslims in the United States, stoking fears of further discrimination in Muslim communities across the country.
The plans being considered, as described by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, would reinstate the federal government's database of immigrants from Muslim-majority countries — a database that, according to Vox, was in place as recently as 2011. On the campaign trail, the president-elect did temporarily propose a mandatory database of all Muslim citizens. In the time since, Trump has backed away from this proposal — so Kobach's assertions that the 2011 database may be reinstated under the president-elect's administration took everyone by surprise.
Commentators including Daily Show host Trevor Noah are calling on Americans of all faiths to protect their Muslim neighbors by registering for the database, too.
"We need to stand in solidarity with Muslim people who are being targeted by Donald Trump," Noah said. "If they start registering Muslims in America, we all register as Muslims."
The idea seems to be catching on.
Author and activist Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura thanked non-Muslims for their concern and their willingness to help on Twitter, but suggested there might be still more effective ways to get involved.
"Muslims are already registered, there are no-fly lists, there's the CVE program, there's all the monitoring of mosques, FBI informants," she tweeted. "Did you not think that the next response to the constant dehumanization wouldn't be something like a Muslim registry?"
She laid out how Muslims are already being disenfranchised in a long and thoughtful series of tweets.
Buljusmic-Kustura suggested that instead of self-registering (a potentially dangerous act), allies should speak out. She suggested that we identify our representatives, call them, protest, and stand in solidarity with Muslims by resisting any form of registry by any means necessary. The protests shouldn't focus solely on the database, she said: no-fly lists and the monitoring of mosques also predominantly target Muslims. Allies also have the power to speak out and help debunk Islamophobic myths, like the myth that Sharia law is spreading across the United States (it isn't).
Other celebrities have come forward against calls of a registry for Muslims by invoking U.S. history. Actor, director and activist George Takei wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post about his family's time spent in a Japanese internment camp, calling the database a "prelude to internment." His claim seems further supported after Trump surrogate Carl Higbie told journalist Megyn Kelly on Fox News that there was "precedent" to register Muslims because "we did it during World War II with [the] Japanese."
"'National security' must never again be permitted to justify wholesale denial of constitutional rights and protections," Takei wrote. "If it is freedom and our way of life that we fight for, our first obligation is to ensure that our own government adheres to those principles."