NEW YORK (APP) – Thousands of people filled New York’s iconic Times Square on Sunday, waving American flags and holding placards saying “No Muslim Ban.”
The “I Am A Muslim Too” rally, designed to support Muslim Americans and protest President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, was organized by several groups, including the non-profit organization Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU).
The crowd included men, women and children from all religions. Many Pakistanis participated as did their fellow Muslims from other Islamic countries.
Similar protests were also held over the weekend across the United States.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, told the crowd that America is “a country founded to protect all faiths and all beliefs. â€œWe have to dispel the stereotypes’ and that America is “a country founded to protect all faiths and all beliefs.”
“Regardless of your faith or your background or where you were born, this is your city,” De Blasio said.
“And to everybody, this is your country too. This is your country too. And think about the origins of this country — a country founded by people fleeing religious persecution. A country founded to respect all faiths and all beliefs. This is who we are as Americans, and this must be protected.”
The so-called ‘muslim travel ban’ has faced widespread condemnation both at home and abroad and is currently embroiled in legal challenges across the United States with the president vowing to redraft the executive order as early as next week.
Co-hosted by Russell Simmons — an American entrepreneur, producer and author — together with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding President Rabbi Marc Schneier and Jamaica Muslim Center’s Imam Shamsi Ali, the event reflected solidarity for American Muslims.
Mr. Trump has initiated a crackdown on illegal immigration. He has also called for a temporary ban on people entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Chants of “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go”, “No wall, No Muslim ban, no fascist USA’ and “Love Trumps Hate” were frequently raised, and host Dean Obeidallah, a comedian, contrasted the crowd in New York City with those who turned out for Trump’s Saturday campaign rally in Florida, describing the Trump crowd as “all different shades of angry white people.”
Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of President Trump’s Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, also attended the rally to show solidarity with Muslims.
She wrote on Twitter that the event was the first protest for her daughter Charlotte, age 2.
“Thank you to all who organized #IAmMuslimToo today – Charlotte’s 1st protest rally. #NoBanNoWallNoRaids,” Ms. Clinton tweeted.
Famed Hollywood star Susan Sarandon criticized the Trump administration. “We are standing here at this moment in history when it no longer possible to be neutral. If you are silent, then you are complicit,” she said.
“We are here because we will not be cogs in this machine that is dismantling our Constitution; that is dismantling our Bill of Rights.”
Music producer Russell Simmons, a former friend of Trump, told the crowd.
“We’re using the Muslim community as a scapegoat. We are being mean to the people who are the victims of terrorists.” After Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. in 2015, Simmons penned an open letter describing Trump as a “one-man wrecking ball willing to destroy our nation’s foundation of freedom.”
“We are here today to show middle America our beautiful signs and, through our beautiful actions and intention, that they have been misled,” Simmons said. “We are here unified because of Donald Trump: We want to thank him for bringing us together,” he added.
“While you are saying, ‘I am Muslim too,’ I say to you, ‘I am unapologetically Muslim all day, every day,’ ” Linda Sarsour, an American of Palestinian origin who is the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York, said.
She brought attention to the date “February 19” which marks the 75th anniversary of when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the forced relocation of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans to incarceration camps.
“I ask you … that you commit to being part of the true, never-again generation,” Sarsour told the crowd. “Not on our watch, not on my watch, not on your watch.”
Rabbi Schneier said, “Whenever my Muslim brothers and sisters are demonized and vilified, discriminated against or victimized by hate crimes and violence, ‘Today, I am a Muslim too. ”
The more than two-hour demonstration passed off peacefully.