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Minneapolis marches against Islamophobia

By Meredith Aby-Keirstead |
September 18, 2016
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Minneapolis protest against Islamophobia
Minneapolis protest against Islamophobia (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Minneapolis, MN - Over 250 people rallied and marched through the Cedar-Riverside and Seward neighborhoods Sept.17, showing solidarity and denouncing the hate crimes being committed against Muslims. The protest started at May Day Plaza and included a march to the headquarters of the Republican Party of Minnesota on Franklin Avenue, where they confronted the Islamophobic message of Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate.

Sabry Wazwaz, a Palestinian-American activist with the Minnesota Anti-War Committee, was the first speaker to address the crowd before leading chants on the march route. He spoke out against the U.S. government’s use of terrorism as an excuse to attack Muslims at home and abroad. He was inspired by the action and told Fight Back!, “Today people of all faiths, color and no faith stood together in solidarity to say no to Islamophobia and racism. It was wonderful and beautiful to see.”

Burhan Mohumed, a Somali-American activist with Minnesotans Against Islamophobia, explained the significance of the protest for himself and many of his fellow community members, “We can and must confront the climate of fear promoted by the haters like Trump. Coming out to protests, with Muslims and non-Muslims in solidarity, is one of the strongest ways that I can think of to do this. Today I witnessed the power of the people. We marched to together for justice. I feel more inspired and empowered by the people.”

Filsan Ibrahim and Aisha Mohamed both spoke to the rally and denounced the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program run by the Department of Justice in Minneapolis. CVE criminalizes and spies on the Somali community in Minnesota and is a classic divide and conquer tactic using ‘trusted’ individuals and organizations; infiltrators posing as friends, teachers in schools, and social service organizations. Protesters carried signs denouncing CVE and chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, CVE has got to go,” and “See me not CVE.”

The march opposed the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim speech coming from candidates during this election season. Donald Trump was called out by speakers from the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee for his calls for banning Muslims from entering the U.S. and for building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The Minnesota Anti-War Committee (AWC) organized the march to draw attention to the cost of 15 years of the war on terror at home. Misty Rowan of the AWC explains, “We need to stand up against Islamophobia and the government’s targeting of our Muslim sisters and brothers as terrorists. As we marched through the Somali-American community, we saw many smiling faces and raised fists from people in cars and on balconies. There was a real feeling solidarity and gratitude from the people who live in the neighborhood.”

This protest was part of a national call by Stand Together Against Racism and Islamophobia and was co-sponsored by the Minnesota Anti-War Committee and Minnesotans Against Islamophobia. The march was endorsed by anti-war groups, student organizations, anti-police brutality groups and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers.

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