58 South Asian organizations condemn today’s multi-city Islamophobic rallies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of 58 South Asian American community organizations across the country, condemns the local anti-Muslim events organized by ACT For America on June 10. These events are an alarming part of a larger wave of white supremacy targeting our communities nationwide.

ACT for America, reportedly the largest anti-Muslim hate group in the United States, has branded their campaign a “March Against Shariah,” a divisive fear mongering effort to manufacture hatred against the nation’s already-embattled Muslim American communities. The organization’s founder, Brigitte Gabriel, has made her bias and opposition to an entire religion clear, stating “every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim” and that Muslims are a “natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western society.” While ACT for America remains a fringe organization, not representative of the majority of public opinion, the June 10 protests are a physical manifestation of the ongoing effort to sow hatred against our communities nationwide.

Gabriel’s statements are troubling and reminiscent of President Trump’s, who has declared on the record, “I think Islam hates us.” The President’s “Muslim Bans” and divisive rhetoric have validated and amplified the views and actions of violent white supremacists and white nationalist extremists in recent months.

Recently in Portland, OR, a known white supremacist, Jeremy Joseph Christian, spewed racist comments at two commuters, one of whom was a young Muslim woman wearing a hijab. When other passengers attempted to intervene, Christian stabbed two of them to death and injured another before being arrested. At his arraignment Christian reaffirmed his white supremacist beliefs, declaring, “Death to the enemies of America. Leave this country if you hate our freedom.”

This brutal bigotry builds on a rising tide of violence and intimidation that has defined much of the last several years and accelerated during the 2016 Presidential election cycle. Tragic shootings in Kansas and Washington State, ongoing arson attacks and vandalism of mosques, businesses, and homes across the country, and the persistent targeting and harassment of South Asian, Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu communities nationwide continue to be a fact of life.

“While white supremacists believe Islam is incompatible with Western society, we believe racism and fear mongering are incompatible with core American values,” stated Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together. “ACT for America’s anti-Muslim rallies, scheduled during the month of Ramadan, are an affront to the core religious freedoms enshrined in our Constitution and encourages divisive rhetoric that paints Muslim communities in our nation as un-American, which couldn’t be farther from reality. We call on all elected and appointed officials to denounce ACT for America and its anti-Muslim protests as un-American and unacceptable.”

“Much of ACT for America’s gatherings are the sum result of existing practices and policies by local and federal governments that harm frontline communities such as surveillance, racial profiling, and collaboration between local and federal enforcement agencies that commit violence, accelerate deportations, and allow for continued unaccountability from law enforcement officers,” stated Roksana Mun, Director of Strategy at Desis Rising Up & Moving. “Racist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic actions like these are the reasons why all frontline communities need to join together and build our community defense which builds our own people power.”

“Many southeastern states such as North Carolina are on the frontlines of the juxtaposition of South Asian American population growth and the growth in white supremacist organizations,” stated Chavi Koneru, Executive Director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT). “Given these dynamics, it is critical for grassroots organizations like NCAAT to work with our local partners to support smart, inclusive public policies that take a stand against division.”

As grassroots organizations, NCSO members work on numerous issues including domestic violence, immigrant rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and LGBTQIA rights. We have confronted hate violence, advocated for major shifts in law enforcement, government documentation, and responses to hate crimes, as well as policy solutions to anticipate and prevent these horrible incidents. With South Asian Americans the most rapidly growing demographic group in the nation, the NCSO continues to work on inclusion and community building as we mobilize in the face of hate. In this urgent moment, we combine our voices and join our hands in opposition to the organized bigotry and racism targeting our communities every day. We demand our rights and freedoms.

During his arraignment, the Portland attacker declared with zeal, “You got no safe place.” This is the world that white supremacists, with their powerful allies, want to speak into reality. This is the world we will never stop opposing, because love must always trump hate.

Contact: ┬áVivek Trivedi – vivek@saalt.org