FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Liza Behrendt, (603) 397-2412, firstname.lastname@example.org
OVER 400 JEWS, MUSLIMS, AND ALLIES MARCH THROUGH BOSTON TO END ISLAMOPHOBIA
In honor of Chanukah, similar protests took place in over 25 cities
Boston, MA: On Wednesday evening over 400 Jews, Muslims, and allies marched through downtown Boston to protest Islamophobia and racism. Drawing on the Jewish holiday of Chanukah, marchers spoke against Muslim registries, immigration restrictions, and surveillance programs like “Countering Violent Extremism” in Boston. The national organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organized similar events in 25 cities.
“Chanukah has always been about resistance,” said Leora Abelson of the JVP Rabbinical Council. “Our ancestors resisted when the forces of empire tried to make them assimilate, offering them protection in exchange for surrendering their communal stories, traditions, and languages. They refused.”
Speakers ranging from Imam Abdullah T. Faaruuq to spoken word artist Eric Andrade vowed to continue that tradition of resistance. Beginning at the Boston Common and marching to Government Center, the group symbolically lit eight candles throughout the way, each candle representing a different commitment to stopping Islamophobia. The commitments included standing “Against US policies driven by the ‘War on Terror’ that demonize Islam and devalue, target, and kill Muslims” and calling “for an end to racist policing #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter.” Speakers, musicians, and poets presented a variety of strategies for resisting Islamophobia. (A full list of speakers and commitments is available below).
Shayna Jones of Black Lives Matter Cambridge emphasized the importance of interfering in situations of harassment. “I encourage us to be mindful of people who live at the intersections of multiple oppressions,” she told the crowd at Downtown Crossing. “People who are not only Muslim but black or queer. And when we see a woman in a Hijab being harassed, we need to step in. Our comfort is not worth more than anyone else’s life.”
Kanwal Haq of JETPAC INC emphasized civic engagement. “When we have to fight against a Muslim database, when we have to stand up for what’s right, Muslims lack direct representation in public office,” she said, “so we’re starting by educating our community” and training Muslim leaders to run for elected office.
“My parents found refuge in the US after fleeing wars in Lebanon and Palestine,” said Mona Abdo of Palestine Advocacy Project. “But now, after the election, everyone is scared.” She referenced the recent rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the wake of the election, and asked everyone to keep fighting after the election.
Becca Wolinsky of JVP announced upcoming trainings to continue the work of resisting Islamophobia: a Civil Disobedience training and an Active Bystander Intervention training. “If Trump’s Muslim registries move forward, we’ll be ready to shut them down with our bodies.”
Local co-sponsors include American Friends Service Committee, Northeast Palestine Advocacy Project, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, 1for3.org, Common Street Spiritual Center, Muslim Justice League, Arlington Street Church/Boston – Social Action Committee, UU’s for Justice in the Middle East – MA Chapter, Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project, Black Lives Matter Cambridge and JETPAC Inc.
Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston (www.jvp-boston.org) is the local chapter of a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists. The Network Against Islamophobia, a project of JVP, was created to serve as a resource to, and to work in partnership with, JVP chapters and other groups across the country committed to challenging Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism.
Speakers and performers, in order of appearance:
- Boston’s Sing Positive Choir
- Melissa Nussbaum, MC
- Liza Behrendt, JVP-Boston Organizer
- Leora Abelson, JVP Rabbinical Council
- Imam Abdullah T. Faaruuq, Mosque for Praising Allah
- Becca Wolinsky, JVP Boston
- Garlic and Onion Klemer Band, led by Ben Pasamanick
- Aliya Cycon, Singer/Composer/Arranger/Oud Player
- Regine Guevera, performing “Love Light” by Zainab Syed, Pakistani Spoken Word Artist
- Barbara Wilhelm, JVP Anti-Islamophobia Coordinator
- Shayna Jones, Black Lives Matter Cambridge
- Kanwal Haq, JetPAC Inc Development Director
- Boston’s Workmen’s Circle Chanukkah Choir
- Mona Abdo, Palestinian Activist
- William Ruhm, Mass Against HP
- Lina Morales, Young JVP Coordinator
- Malika MacDonald-Rushdan, Director of ICNA Relief USA – MA Field Office and Director Elect Islamic Council of New England
- Eric Andrade, Spoken Word Artist
Eight commitments in standing against Islamophobia:
- WE WILL NOT BE SILENT ABOUT ANTI-MUSLIM AND RACIST HATE SPEECH AND HATE CRIMES
- WE CONDEMN STATE SURVEILLANCE OF THE MUSLIM, ARAB, AND SOUTH ASIAN COMMUNITIES
- WE PROTEST THE USE OF ISLAMOPHOBIA AND ANTI-ARAB RACISM TO JUSTIFY ISRAEL’S REPRESSIVE POLICIES AGAINST PALESTINIANS
- WE FIGHT ANTI-MUSLIM PROFILING AND RACIAL PROFILING IN ALL ITS FORMS
- WE CALL FOR AN END TO RACIST POLICING #SayHerName #BlackLivesMatter
- WE STAND AGAINST U.S. POLICIES DRIVEN BY THE “WAR ON TERROR” THAT DEMONIZE ISLAM AND DEVALUE, TARGET, AND KILL MUSLIMS
- WE WELCOME SYRIAN REFUGEES AND STAND STRONG FOR IMMIGRANTS’ AND REFUGEE RIGHTS
- WE STAND WITH FIRST NATION PEOPLE AND WATER PROTECTORS AT STANDING ROCK