Thousands of demonstrators gathered in New York on 11 September to demonstrate against Islamaphobia and racism. Their counter-demonstration was called in response to a racist rally against the proposed building of an Islamic community centre, held in the city on the same day.
Muslims, students and workers joined together to call for an end to Islamaphobia. The demo, which was organised by the NYC Coalition to Stop Islamaphobia and supported by organisations including the Bail out the People Movement and the Palestine Right to Return Coalition was loud and colourful.
Chants included, “Solidarity and unity are in New York to stay” and “No justice, no peace” were shouted in Spanish and English. Banners read, “Tea Party bigots funded by corporate dollars” and “Book burning is for fascists'.
In addition to the proposed Quran burning at a Florida church, Muslims have been subject to increasingly violent incidents, such as the slashing of a Muslim cab driver, which occurred in New York in late August.
Mauri Saalakhan, director of the Peace Thu Justice Foundation, said, “For a demo called ten days ago, this has a good turn out. We felt it was very important that voices from the other side were not the only voices heard on this day. There are pockets of anti-Muslim and anti-Islam bigotry in America. As citizens of America and the world we should be concerned.
“Human rights and religious freedom are cornerstones of any civilization. We have forces endeavouring to undermine these fundamental principles and it is necessary for people of good will to fight back.”
Lauren, a student, stated, “The Tea Party needs to be stopped. It started as a result of racism. People are joining together, supporting each other's racism and trying to twist the constitution.”
Leanne Tyler, a student at Columbia University, said, “The US is not promoting democracy and tolerance within its own borders.”
Sarah Lazur, another student, said, “The Tea Party get a lot of airtime on the news, but they are not as unified as people think. When their demonstrations are reported in the media, their numbers are totally inflated.” She said it was encouraging to come to the anti-Islamophobia demo and find a “sea of people turning out to oppose racism and bigotry”.