In a powerful gathering at Chicago Temple First United Methodist Church on December 30, Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and social activist, organized a press conference in solidarity with American Muslims in the face of the injustices and discrimination that they are facing. State officials and leaders from churches, mosques and other organizations were in attendance to voice their condemnation of hate crimes and injustice targeting Muslim and other minority communities. Profiling and denying access to air travel, Muslim children being bullied at school, verbal harassment to women wearing the headscarf and mosques being firebombed are but some examples of what the fabric of the American society is now witnessing.
Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinckle, Cook County Commissioner, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, 31st District Representative, Mary Flowers, Myron McCoy and Senior Pastor were among the leaders present who spoke candidly and powerfully about the importance of unity and standing up for what is right. They reminded us that this impacts how we, as America, moves forward.
“A toxic wind is blowing in our country. Our silence is betrayal. We must speak loudly against injustice. We are not limited by race, religion or gender.” said Jesse Jackson. He further added that the year’s end should bring an end to our silence.
Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle added that we need to bring an end to this injustice. There has been a history of mistreatment against Native Americans, African Americans, Jews, the Chinese and Latinos. We, as a progressive society, need to move forward and learn from the history of our country that we like to forget.
CIOGC’s Azam Nizamuddin, President of the Muslim Bar Association, quoted Thomas Jefferson saying: “On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
Dr. Mohammed Murtaza Arain of the Islamic Foundation mosque gave heart wrenching accounts of hate crimes against Muslims in the Chicagoland area. One account, which was very close to home, detailed the death of his relative whose body was found burned on the DeKalb University campus. Details and the cause of death are still under investigation, but Dr. Arain said that there was reason to believe that it was a cover up for a hate crime.
“We are all seeking peace, but there is no peace without justice,” said Reem Hobeldin, CIOGC Programs and Graphics Manager. “So the question is: what are we willing to give up to step up to the challenge and address injustice in our community and in other communities, like the African American community?” she later added.
On a chilly, white Wednesday morning was a warmth emanating from leaders who stood their ground and decided to say: enough. CIOGC staff members expressed their gratitude to Reverend Jesse Jackson’s leadership and for providing a platform where everyone can be united. Read his recent statement on Leaders provide vision – not division here.
As the year comes to an end, the leaders present committed to raising more awareness about community building and unity with the hopes a brighter year ahead.