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:  Vivek Trive­di — vivek@saalt.org