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Muslim Leaders to Counter Hate Speech with RallyAfrican-American Muslims Refuse to be Complacent

Several interfaith organizations will hold a rally in D.C. this month to call for inclusiveness in response to a spate of terrorist acts, hate speech in the American political discourse and gun-related violence.

Imam Muhammad Musri of American Islam, one of the organizers for the Rally Against Hate on Saturday, July 23 at the Washington Monument from 2 p.m.-8 p.m., said he wants all people to come together.

“Thousands of Americans will join together in national security and peace to demonstrate that America is stronger together and that we stand united for the security of our nation and in countering terrorism – and that when one person, one religion, one race is discriminated against, we are all discriminated against,” he said.

The event’s theme will be “Americans Against Terrorism, Hate and Gun Violence.” This includes divisive language targeted at Latinos, Africans, Middle Eastern people and LBGT Americans.

The organizers believe there is a connection between hate speech and the increase of gun violence.

“American Muslims and their interfaith partners have long and consistently denounced any terrorist acts and have promoted national security for all Americans by vigorously working to protect this nation in cooperation with law enforcement,” said Imam Mohamed Magid of All Dulles Area Muslim Society. “Too often these efforts are overlooked and even blamed for these acts, or questioned on ‘where are the moderate Muslim voices?’ This rally will rebut all such uninformed allegations.”

Walter Ruby of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding emphasized that the rally will show America that Muslims are indeed speaking out against extremism, and that Americans of all faith traditions are coming together to fight bigotry against Muslims and other communities.

“Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Bahais, humanists and others will show that we are all committed to building ties of friendship and cooperation with each other; thereby contributing together to the strength, unity and well-being of our nation,” Ruby said.

Christian leaders like Pastor Joan Bell-Haynes of United Christian Parish want to put an end to the “xenophobic, bigoted and incendiary language that undermines American values and gives rise to extremist actions.”

Ibrahim Mumin of The Nations Mosque in northwest D.C. said the hate towards Muslims and others comes from a lack of knowledge and understanding.

“They don’t know about Islam and, consequently, their opinions are formed by TV and sensationalism from places like Fox News and others that try to demonize Muslims,” he said. “We have Muslims who are police officers, firefighters, doctors and lawyers. These are people who are involved in every sector of society. We have a lot of correcting to do.”

Mumin discounts the idea that African-American Muslims are immune to stereotypes such as “violent” and “terrorist.”

“The system responds to everybody,” he said. “We are all affected. When I go to the airport, I am almost always pulled aside. It’s supposed to be random, so it shouldn’t happen every time. The system does things to focus on people with Muslim or Arabic names.”

He believes that through civic engagement, the connotation of Muslims will change.

“I attend the Bates Street civic association meetings to stay engaged in what’s going on in the broader community,” he said. “I am involved in the anti-violence campaign here in Shaw, where we fight against guns and gun violence.

“The best way to counter these ideas about Muslims being terrorist is to show them who we are, which is peaceful, law-abiding citizens,” he said.

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