Humanity Voice - Muslim Americans Speak Up for Gaza



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  Muslim Americans Speak Up for Gaza
Washington, IOL - 2009-01-04

This week, thousands of Muslims Americans and non-Muslims, stormed through the streets of the US to promote unity and to show solidarity with the Palestinian people, who have been recently subjected to massive and deadly Israeli attacks that have devastated the Gaza Strip.

On Tuesday, at the State Department, nearly a thousand people, took to the streets of Washington.

The Act Now to Stop War and Racism, or ANSWER, a coalition of hundreds of peace and justice organizations, including Muslim Students Association National, sponsored the protest. The coalition was established in 2001 to combat racism, wars, and other forms of injustice.

Protesters marched through the streets of major governmental institutions in the US capital. Their voices grew louder as they approached the State Department and the White House.

"Free, free, from the river to the sea,” said one protestor, while others chanted with rhyming slogans and jargons such as, "Gaza, do not cry, Palestine will not die", "Stop aid to Israel", and "Stop the massacre of Palestinians."

People from all walks of life blended in with the large crowd of veiled women and young children.

Voices for Justice

Rahma Kamhawy, a protestor from North Carolina, told IslamOnline that these protests are meant to spread the word about what is going on in Gaza.

She believes the media have not been doing a good job in covering the plight of the Palestinians. "We are here to educate people," Kamhawy added.

She also said that she was touched by the large number of people who came together to educate those who do not know much about the suffering of the Palestinian people.

“This demonstration gave us here in the U.S. a way to vent out feelings about the horrific situation going on in Gaza,” a protestor, who asked not to be identified, said. "Most of us feel so disconnected and feel as if though we cannot do anything, but in reality I feel that getting the word out about the situation in a kind and benevolent manner is very important…Spreading knowledge is the only thing that can combat ignorance, which is the sole contributor to conflict."

A New Awakening

Many other protests are taking place across the US, including in California, New York, Boston, Texas, Florida, Utah and Chicago, just to name a few. These demonstrations show an emerging sense of unity as well as an awakening by Muslim Americans. This is particularly true within the young generation, who see the need for educating the public about humanitarian issues in the Muslim world.

Dr. Hatem Bazian, a lecturer of Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, strongly believes that Muslims are beginning to realize the obstacles they face. “The challenge in the Muslim world is not to confuse symptoms for the root causes of the condition they find themselves in,” he said. "Gaza is a symbol and the focal point for Muslims who have seen their collective freedoms, liberties, happiness, dignity, self-worth, wealth and whole countries set to waste by internally colonized elites and the external colonial forces."

Dr. Bazian said protests are a meaningful way for Muslim Americans to stand in solidarity with the disadvantaged, both in the Muslim and Arab world. He added that the Palestinian plight has brought Muslims together and has created a bridge of unity.

Opposing Views

One protestor in Washington said to a passerby, "Do you know that this money is going to this trash? It is used to bomb and kill innocent children." The protests have in some ways elicited sarcastic looks and laughs from some on the streets.

An observer of the protest, who preferred to remain anonymous, told IslamOnline, "Part of my paycheck is taken out to kill children?" No, this can't be true. But what can I do about it [if it is]?"


Protestors all across the US have expressed feelings of hope and optimism. Most of the people interviewed by IslamOnline said they are hopeful that one day the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will come to an end.

Dr. Bazian added that amidst "the dark days", justice and freedom will prevail.

He also said that now is the time to act in order for freedom and justice to be manifested.

"The time has arrived and it is today,” he said.

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