After New Zealand Massacre, People of Many Faiths Gather in Solidarity Against Hate and Islamophobia

Excerpts of speeches by Zain Sayal, of Muslim Youth Connecticut; Fahd Syed, a Muslim community activist; Saifuddin Hasaan, an assistant imam at Masjid al Islam Mosque, at a New Haven, Connecticut vigil and rally, recorded and produced by Melinda Tuhus

In the wake of the murder of 50 Muslim worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15, people around the world gathered in solidarity on March 20 to rally against hate and Islamophobia. The 28-year-old Australian man charged with the mass murder left behind writings that detail his white-supremacist worldview, claiming inspiration from Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof to Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. The shooter also refers to U.S. President Donald Trump “as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.”

In Connecticut, a dozen people gathered on the New Haven Green on March 20 for a rally organized by a group called Muslim Youth of Connecticut and the refugee resettlement organization, IRIS, or Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services. As participants held photos of some of those murdered, speaker after speaker denounced the attacks on people at worship, not only Muslims, but Christians, Jews, Sikhs and others from world religions.

Between The Lines’ Melinda Tuhus was at the rally and recorded the comments of three speakers. First, we hear from Zain Sayal with Muslim Youth of CT, who was the main organizer of the gathering.

ZAIN SAYAL: Our 50 brothers and sisters who were cold-bloodedly murdered with their loved ones in the middle of connecting with their creator in a house that is not meant for bullets. No house of worship should have to look over their shoulder, at the least. Mosques, churches, synagogues – you think they are safe havens. None of these shootings were any more or less important. No life is more valuable than the other. What bothers me the most is the world leaders instilling the hatred and fear into these killers’ hearts. Those responsible for breeding this generation of right-wing extremists, the Australian white terrorist included, the president of this country. And my question to all of you is, why are we afraid to call out Trump for what he is? How many more attacks on Muslims, or synagogues, or churches is it gonna take to make then responsible for what they have done?

BETWEEN THE LINES: That was Zain Sayal with Muslim Youth of Connecticut. Another speaker was Fahd Syed, a Muslim community activist from Waterbury, CT.

FAHD SYED: I’ll be honest; I’m gonna keep it real. That’s how I grew up. I want to highlight some of the bigot agenda. We’re going to be traveling the world to see what’s going on. First, let me discuss when Jerusalem became the so-called capital of Israel. This led to ongoing racism, as the Palestinians are being removed from their homes. Dogs are being “sicced” on them. They are stopping prayers in the Al Aqsa. Murder and destruction of our schools. Imagine if your family owned a home for hundreds of years, and suddenly soldiers come and tell you to get out. Where would you go? There’s nowhere to go. Their Palestinian crimes are guarding their movement, the only reason they are removed.

Now let’s take a trip to China, where at least millions of Muslims are being locked up, put in prison for being Muslims. Forcibly being fed pork. Being killed. Being tortured – nails removed with tools. Muslims’ wives being touched forcefully by other men. Where is Congress attempting to stop this mass torture of Muslims in China?

Now let’s take a trip to this country, where Donald Trump called for a Muslim ban, and called Islam a disease, attacking many minority communities and inspiring terrorist white supremacists, which led to the killing of many minority communities, which includes the black community, the Jewish community, the Muslim community and attacks on the Hispanic community.

Now let’s take a trip to Congress, where bigots continue to attack my beloved sister, Congresswoman Ilhan, where AIPAC has funded politicians to endorse the Muslim ban. Shame on those that stay silent! Please, brothers and sisters, continue praying in your mosques. I hear our community literally crying and screaming in pain from all the bigots’ incidents. I share your pain. Remember, we seek help from God alone and only alone in his guidance. Salaam Aleikum.

BETWEEN THE LINES: That was Fahd Syed, an activist from Waterbury, CT. Saiffudin Hasan, an assistant imam at Masjid el Islam in New Haven, also spoke.

SAIFFUDIN HASAN: Today, we want to show our solidarity with our brothers and sisters there, the brothers and sisters who have been massacred in New Zealand. Our brothers and sisters who have been massacred in Pittsburgh, in the synagogue. Our brothers and sisters who were massacred in South Carolina. These are the same hateful people. For any Muslim, it is forbidden for us to go into a place of worship or kill any innocent human being. Brothers and sisters, we have a president who didn’t really apologize, or show sympathy, for what happened in New Zealand. And I want to say we are all immigrants. Every last one of us who have come to this country – beside the natives of this country – are all immigrants. All the people in New Zealand besides the indigenous people, who were systematically wiped out in New Zealand; who were systemically wiped out in the Americas, and the aborigines in Australia. We are all immigrants, so how can someone come up and say they are invaders? But this is the rhetoric we are constantly hearing from the president of our country – that there are invaders coming in.

I know my brothers and sisters who have come here from other countries, they came here for a better life, and they wouldn’t give that up for anything. They escaped persecution and tyranny in their own Muslim countries to come here, and they wouldn’t give that up for anything.

So, brothers and sisters, I ask you to stand in solidarity with all of us today, because I’m touched, and this has touched the hearts of all of the Muslim community, that you have come out today, and throughout the world, and showed your solidarity against hate and racism and terrorism and all of these acts of aggression against humanity. Salaam aleikum, peace be unto you.

For more information on IRIS, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, visit irisct.org. Follow Muslim Youth Connecticut on Facebook at MuslimYouthCT.

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