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NEW YORK, NY (January 28, 2014) – The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) thanks President Obama for his promise to issue an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federally contracted employees to $10.10 in his State of the Union address last night.
Obama also called on business leaders to raise employee earnings. ICNA urges Congress and the states to follow his lead and increase the minimum wage to a level that can support individuals and their families.
Although this increase is not the singular solution for addressing poverty, it is a much needed step to boost the living standards for low-wage workers after five years of a stagnant hourly rate of $7.25. In a country in which the top 1 percent control 43 percent of the wealth, this is the least required to combat extreme income disparity.
“No one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty,” said Obama. The federal minimum wage is worth twenty percent less than it was when almost thirty years ago, he said.
Interfaith Worker Justice, of which ICNA is a member, worked hard for this change to take effect. IWJ seeks to mobilize people of faith to advocate for economic justice and worker rights.
Islamic teachings advocate fair wages and protection of the weak from economic exploitation by those in power. “God loves those who act justly.” [49:9]
“We need to hold corporations responsible for their abuse of employees and workers,” said Naeem Baig, president of ICNA. “An increase in the federal minimum wage is a positive step against inequality.”
ICNA also appreciates Obama’s declaration for 2014 to be a year of action and progress, in particular his appeal for congressional action on immigration reform and the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.
However, ICNA urges the president to adequately address the disturbing issues of surveillance and the use of drones. Vague platitudes of reform and limitation are insufficient after the revelations of individuals such as Edward Snowden and the civilian survivors of the unmanned aerial vehicles.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. It serves as both a reminder of one of the most traumatizing occurrences to unfold on American soil and as a testimony to the resilience of every community living here in America.