Huge Rally Against Bigotry

April 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By TMO Stringer

DSC_1866The Muslim Peace Coalition  (MPC) organized a rally in New York City’s Union Square at noon on April 9th to protest against “war, Islamophobia, and terror.”

The Muslim Peace Coalition claimed that 500 Muslim organizations had joined in to cosponsor the rally and its San Francisco sister rally on April 10th, which was attended by the prominent imam Zaid Shakir as well as many other imams and other prominent individuals, such as (in alphabetical order) Sr. Seemi Ahmed, Imam Abdul Latif Al-Amin, Imam Shamsi Ali, Imam Ashrafuzzaman Khan, Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid, Br. Abu Ahmed Nuruzzaman, Imam Muhammad Qatanani, Cindy Sheehan and Dr. Shaik Ubaid.

500 plus organizations, Muslims and neighbors from interfaith, peace movements and labor joined hands together  Against Islamophobia, to oppose war and to condemn terrorism.

The MPC hoped for 25,000 Muslims and 25,000 neighbors to come to Union Square, and perhaps thousands did attend although it is difficult to give an exact estimate of the attendance.

The MPC press release about the event said, “We stand together to make one point: that War, Terrorism and Islamophobia —- are all one set. One distasteful, ugly set —– that has to go.”

The rally was intended to put a good face on the Muslim community–people were invited to come with their children and were invited to be friendly with people of other faiths in attendance, in order to counter the negative media portrayals of Islam and Muslims.

Said the MPC press release, “Please bring your families—- many media people think of Muslims as some distant people, aliens, not families and not neighbors. We need to give our community a human face.”

The MPC pointed out that non-Muslims have in fact been more vocal in their support of the Muslim community against war, Islamophobia, and terror, and encouraged Muslims to thank them “for being a true patriot.”

People marching were also encouraged to sign up with the MPC, to develop “a broader coalition of all neighbors against hate and injustice.”

“Diversity is as American as Apple pie. Let’s build on our diversity.”

MPC organizers also told horror stories of Muslim children in New York being beaten up and robbed in school on account of their religion, and pointed out that those most vulnerable are girls with hijab.

Good weather, organization, and good speakers made the event a very successful rally with widespread attendance from New York’s Muslim community.

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AL-AWDA Convention

May 28, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, MMNS

Palestinians comprise the largest refugee population in the world today. The Israelis drove out approximately 750,000 Palestinians from their homes in 1948. The legal basis for their right of return cannot be disputed. In their treatment of Palestinian refugees, the Israelis not only forced Palestinians to leave ancestral lands, but, through their treatment of them from 1948 until today, they have destroyed a culture.

In the 61st year of the Nakba (the catastrophe), AL-AWDA once again has brought national and international attention to this situation.

The seventh annual convention of AL-AWDA, the Palestinian Right of Return Coalition, was held in Garden Grove, Ca. this past weekend. This well attended, exciting and educational event, titled “Freedom for Palestine”, began Friday evening with a meet and greet session enhanced by outstanding Arabic food.

After the convention opening and welcome, activists from solidarity organizations addressed the audience. These activists included, but were not limited to: John Parker, the West Coast Coordinator of the International Action Center; Richard Becker, a founder and current leader of the ANSWER Coalition, and Cindy Sheehan, a prominent anti-war activist and campaigner for human rights.

A showing of “Salt of the Sea” closed the evening’s activities. This motion picture tells the story of a young Palestinian woman, born in the United States to Palestinian refugees. When she becomes aware that at the time of the Nakba the Israelis froze her grandfather’s bank account in Jaffa, she travels to Palestine to reclaim what she believes is her due. As she sees the conditions of Palestinian existence and meets a young Palestinian man, she comes to realize that what needs to be reclaimed is far more than a bank account.

On Saturday forums were held throughout the day dealing with such timely issues as: “Palestinian Refugees – Background and Current Status”  with Dr. Jesse Ghannam. Dr. Ghannam has established mental health clinics in Gaza and travels there frequently. The clinics and his participation in them are under the auspices of the Gaza Community Mental Health program. In the United States, Dr. Ghannam is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Chief of Medical Psychology at the University of California San Francisco.

“Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions” was conducted by Lubna Hamad of Adalah (The Coalition for Justice in the Middle East) New York of which she is co founder. Ms Hamad was a legal consultant for UNICEF in Jerusalem with a specialty of child protection.

George Galloway, British MP and international human rights advocate, conducted a forum on “Viva Palestina”.

MP Galloway also addressed an evening session on “Growing our Global Movement – Freedom for Palestine” which session included fundraising.

Keynote addresses on Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli attack and the situation in Jerusalem highlighted the luncheon session.

A parallel youth program was held.

The final session of the Convention, held on Sunday, dealt with reports, challenges and future plans.

The Sacramento chapter, which had at one time been part of the San Francisco chapter, reported growth and successful participation in anti war events, BDS and educational series. The Phoenix chapter also reported growth and public engagement.

A suggestion was made to encourage tourism to Palestine,specifically Jerusalem, as the Israeli government is trying to cripple East Jerusalem economically. Tourists should stay at Palestinian run hotels; eat at Palestinian run restaurants, and purchase from Palestinian run shops.

Further, a suggestion was made to coordinate AL-AWDA activity here with AL-AWDA groups in Europe where the movement is extremely active.

Still another suggestion, unanimously and enthusiastically accepted, was to send a small delegation to the Egyptian Consulate to express our dismay at Egypt’s cooperation in making crossing into Gaza through Rafah difficult and erratic.

Booths on display at the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Online Store; A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition; International Action Center; Free Gaza Movement, and Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California in San Diego.

Host committee organizations of the AL-AWDA Convention included but were not limited to: Palestine Aid Society; Muslim Students Association at UCSD, Palomar College, and Mira Costa and the Muslim Students Union at UCR; Free Palestine Alliance, and Palestinian American Women Association.

AL-AWDA may be accessed at: www.al-awda.org.

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