While United States President-elect Donald Trump forms his administration, Muslim and Jewish Americans have joined forces to campaign for their rights.
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) are banding together to form the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council that would protect against anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim elements in the upcoming White House.
Late last week, Trump appointed Stephen Bannon as White House chief strategist. Bannon is chairman of the Breitbart news that has been accused of touting White Nationalist and anti-Semitic rhetoric. He is seen as the impetus of this ostensibly unlikely alliance between Muslim and Jewish rights activists.
With three main objectives, the council seeks to protect and expand the rights of religious minorities, address anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish bigotry and highlight the contributions of Muslims and Jews to American society.
"The Council aims to provide a model for civic engagement by two communities, vital to American society, that agree to work together on issues of common concern and overlapping interest," Co-Chair of the Council Farooq Kathwari said in a press release.
"The appointment of Stephen Bannon as a top Trump administration strategist sends the disturbing message that anti-Muslim conspiracy theories and white nationalist ideology will be welcome in the White House," Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in a statement.
"We urge President-elect Trump to reconsider this ill-advised appointment if he truly seeks to unite Americans."
Jonathan Greenbelt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) – a U.S.-based international Jewish organization – echoed CAIR's concerns, referring to Bannon as a prominent figure among "white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists."
In an interview with CNN, Greenbelt also highlighted anti-Semitic memes and the utilization of stereotypes against Muslims during Trump's campaign as causes for serious concern.
He also said that his organization has noted a spike in hate crimes against Muslims and Jews throughout the country.
In his acceptance speech after being elected president, Trump vowed to represent all Americans. During an interview with CBS 60 Minutes on Sunday, the president-elect also told his supporters to stop harassing minorities.
"I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, 'cause I’m gonna bring this country together," Trump said, when asked about the spike in hate crimes following his election.
"I am so saddened to hear that. And I say: Stop it. If it, if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it," the president-elect reiterated.
Still, with the appointment of Bannon following the overt xenophobic rhetoric perpetuated throughout Trump's campaign, many Muslim and Jewish groups remain skeptical.