Mobilization Against Racism and Islamophobia

From I.A.C.

Forced into action by a vicious anti-Muslim rally meant to stop construction of a downtown Islamic Center, on September 11 thousands of people took to the streets of New York to say no to racism.

The Unity & Solidarity Rally march stretching back three blocks, disappearing into the horizon. By any estimate, the people who came out against racism and bigotry far outnumbered the Tea Party crowd.

What organizers of the anti-racist march found most striking was how their experience invalidated the poll reporting 70% in favor of moving the Islamic Center.

The group organizing the anti-Center rally had considerable resources to organize with – enough money to buy bus ads from the MTA and feature a huge jumbotron screen at the rally. The Tea Party itself is bankrolled by the oil-billionaire Koch brothers.

In addition, the racists’ rally received free daily nonstop media coverage, as every politician from the New York governor to electoral candidates weighed in, most unable to stand up against the anti-Muslim campaign.

The New York Times and other media regularly published the names of speakers who would attend the anti-mosque rally — right-wing, big-name media personalities who were chosen specifically to draw attention to the demonstration.

By contrast, press conferences by the Unity & Soldarity Rally held to publicize its September 11 rally were attended by dozens of media; but coverage of those same press conferences were pushed out of the airwaves as the corporate-owned media focused on the circus in Gainesville, Fla, where a bigoted pastor threatened to burn Qur’ans on September 11.

The issue became an outrageous drama in the days leading up to September 11. The racists got all the free publicity they could want. Every time the bigoted Florida pastor uttered a word, the media covered it. Billionaire Donald Trump inserted himself into the fray. Every online news site featured a poll on the issue. Talk about a recruitment bonanza!

With promotion like this, the 70% of citizens who supposedly wanted the center moved should have been doubly and triply galvanized to get into the streets and protest.

But this phenomenon never materialized – at least not like the right wing claimed it would.

Sara Flounders, IAC co-coordinator and an organizer of Saturday’s rally, said “The point is not that the anti-Muslim and Tea Party movements aren’t dangerous. The cab driver whose neck was slashed and all the other hate crimes nationwide showed that.

    “The point is that the movement against racism was more easily organized into the streets – with no budget, less time to organize and far less media coverage.”

And the progressive rally gained support not only against an anti-Muslim drumbeat. It grew against a related media campaign insisting that any protest held on September 11 would be disrespectful.

All of this shows potential for building the kind of movement that the scapegoating campaign was trying to deflect, especially if we act now and capitalize on the momentum.

    “We brought out the real New York City — a city of workers and peoples of color from all around the world,” Larry Holmes of the Bail Out the People Movement said on Saturday.

    “This mobilization started because we were forced to defend our Muslim sisters and brothers. It will continue because we have to open up the struggle against war, against racism, and for jobs, education and health care. There is much more to fight for and now we all know who we can count on.”

For more information and reports see:

Related Topics:
Xenophobia on African Shores and Elsewhere
The 9/11 March Against Islamophobia

2 thoughts on “Mobilization Against Racism and Islamophobia

  1. In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

    “We have, without doubt, Sent down the Message (Qur’an); And We will assuredly Guard it”. 15:9

    Assalaamu Alaykum:

    Dear brother/sister,

    We pray that this letter reaches you in the best of health and peace. We are humbly asking you to join us on this Islamic occasion with your family, students and friends.

    In light of the recent events taking place in New York City regarding the proposed Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan, some anti-Muslims have tried to take advantage of the situation to disguise their hate agendas through constitutionally protected protests. Some went as far as trying to humiliate Muslims by burning our must sacred book.

    To this end, we wanted to peacefully show them how fruitless the hateful burning of the Holy Quran is. If you have any person with commend of Qur’an please let’s her/him be part of the reciting team. Also don’t forget list your organization as a sponsor.

    1. The African Imams’ Council
    2. Futa Islamic Center
    3. Mouride Islamic Community of America
    4. Majlis Ash-Shara of NY
    5. Women in Islam
    6. Islamic Leadership School
    7. Islamic Cultural Center of North America
    8. Mount Hope Masjid
    9. Masjid Annasar

    In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful


    The Holy Qur’an is in our Hearts!
    All are welcome-Muslims and non-Muslims!

    This program was organized by a coalition of New York City Muslim organizations in response to recent threats and the actual Holy Qur’an burnings that took place in different states. As a result, we appreciated the opportunity given to us by those who might have thought that burning paper books would affect the sanctity of the Holy Qur’an. Consequently, burning the Holy Qur’an will only increase the worldwide commitment of Muslims to preserve it through memorization.

    This symbolic international Qur’anic recitation in front of the United Nations will be done by individuals from different nationalities, races, ages and genders in order to show the broad and diverse Qur’anic dwellings among Muslims. You can’t afford to miss this historic moment!

    VENUE: Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47 Street, between 1st & 2nd Avenues, NY.

    Date: 9, 30, 2010
    Time: 11:00AM-4:00PM

    Morning Session:
    Part One: 11:00-11:30 opening remarks
    Part Two: 11:30-1:00 Quranic recitation from memory

    Afternoon Session:
    Part Three: 1:00-1:40 Shuhar prayer & lunch
    Part Four: 1:40-3:40 Qur’anic reading from memory
    Part Five: 3:40-4:00 closing remarks

    Guided by: The Council of African Imams & Majlis Ash-Shura of New York.

    Coordinated by: Sheikh Moussa Drammeh 718-829-2323, Dr. Abdoulaye Balde 917-304-2532. RSVP:

Comments are closed.