“I am Muslim too” – Solidarity rally to let the Muslims know that their fellow Americans stand by them.
At a rally in New York City’s Times Square on Sunday, protesters filled three city blocks to express solidarity with Muslims. The crowd gathered to speak out against President Trump’s executive order — now on hold after a unanimous federal appeals court decision — banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The demonstrators — many of them hoisting placards featuring a woman in an American flag hijab with the caption “we the people are greater than fear” — gathered at one of the world’s most famous public places to denounce what they see as threats and pressure aimed at Muslim communities. They wanted to let the Muslims know that their fellow Americans stood by them.
The list of speakers was extensive, according to the program. In addition to entrepreneur and Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons, who helped organize the event, attendees were scheduled to hear from rabbis, imams, a Sikh, a Buddhist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian reverends, a Mennonite, a Seventh Day Adventist minister, a Hindu, a Baptist pastor, local politicians and civil rights advocates.
“We’re using the Muslim community as a scapegoat. We are being mean to the people who are the victims of terrorism,” Simmons, a former friend of Trump, told the crowd. After Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. in 2015, Simmons penned an open letter describing Trump as a “one-man wrecking ball willing to destroy our nation’s foundation of freedom.”
We won’t speak too harshly of him today. We want to thank him for bringing us together,” he said.He decried those who would demonize Muslims as terrorists when, in fact, Muslims have been the victims of terrorism and stand as allies in the fight against extremism.
“So we are here today to show middle America our beautiful signs and, through our beautiful actions and intention, that they have been misled — that the seeds of hate that were small and maybe just ignorance cannot be watered, and that hate cannot grow because we are here to assist them in promoting love,” Simmons told the crowd.
“While you are saying, ‘I am Muslim too,’ I say to you, ‘I am unapologetically Muslim all day, every day,’ ” said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. She brought attention to the date — February 19 — which marks the 75th anniversary of when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced relocation of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans to incarceration camps.
Bajes was standing next to Ellen Landsberger, who she’d just met at the rally.
“I’m Jewish,” Landsberger said, her arm around Bajes, “in the ’40s, my people were turned away. The Holocaust happened. Today, it’s Muslims that are being turned away. As my sister here said, we’re all one people.”
“As one of the signs here says,” Landsberger said, “the irony of this — and the actions here — is that this has united us in more ways than he’ll ever divide us.”