Below is a letter sent today by the HUC Board to State Representative Meschino and Senator O’Connor supporting the passage of two currently proposed pieces of legislation related to our Arab community members as well as a bill to protect First Amendment Rights by combating “doxing.” We encourage other community members who support these bills to reach out too.

Dear Representative Meschino and Senator O’Connor,

We are writing in support of two proposed pieces of legislation: S.1994 – An Act Promoting the Civil Rights and Inclusion of American Muslims in the Commonwealth and S.1116 – An Act Establishing a Right to Freedom from Doxing

S.1994 is a timely initiative to create a resource commission for American Muslims. As proposed, this commission would (1) promote research on issues particular to the community; (2) inform the public and leaders of issues concerning the Muslim community; (3) serve as a liaison between the government and the Muslim community; (4) advise executive and legislative bodies on potential effects on Muslim community for any proposed legislation; and (5) enable the Commonwealth to realize the full benefit of Muslims in the Commonwealth.

We support the creation of this commission but would advocate to amend the reach to include Arab Americans in the Commonwealth, as the majority of Arab Americans are Christians (or other or no religious affiliation) but are still subject to similar patterns of discrimination and bias that Muslims experience.

S.1116 seeks to combat online harassment, including “doxing” – the nonconsensual publication of private, personal information with malicious intent, including intent to harass, intimidate, or defame such person, by facilitating victims’ abilities to bring suits against those who “dox” them.

In the words of the ACLU, “doxing” is a “tool in the arsenal of those who don’t like it when people speak out.” Doxing is used to silence women who report sexual violence, harass and intimidate individuals and their families, drive public figures from their offices, and tarnish professional reputations and employment opportunities through harassing and/or defamatory means. Further, with rising white nationalism, targets are often members of minority or religious groups, LGBTQ individuals (including those who come to Boston for gender affirming care) or members of other marginalized communities, and the human and civil rights activists who speak out on their behalf. Doxing is thus used to hinder free speech or intimidate those who represent a certain group.

We believe S.1116 is an important piece of legislation to protect the First Amendment rights of our citizens, including students and professionals from around the globe.

We hope that you will support or consider sponsoring both of these bills.

The Hingham Unity Council Board