San Francisco, December 18, 2015 – over 150 people from the Arab and Muslim community and allies participated in a press conference to demand an end to the systemic racism and Islamophobia taking place in streets and in the media. They called on public officials to take a stand and speak out against racism. Arab Resource & Organizing Center organized the press conference and it was attended by John Avalos. They called on everyone to challenge the scapegoating of Arabs and Muslims.
Anti-Arab racism and anti-Muslim bigotry has increased after Donald Trump proposed the “banning of Muslims” from entering into the United States, and after the event in Paris, which vilified the Syrian refugees. Community members living in the Bay Area have been experiencing physical and verbal abuse in their daily lives. Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center said “It is a responsibility on all our parts to build on the history of solidarity in the Bay Area, to organize our communities to protect one another and stand for each other’s dignity at a time when we are being told by media and government policies and practices that we are not worthy of such a thing.” Supervisor John Avalos stated a solidarity statement “It was an honor to be part of this rally. It is so important for the Arab and Muslims community to express how they feel about the hate they are expressing at this moment. Specially how many experience random acts of verbal abuse from people who don’t understand anything about them.”
According to human rights organizations and civil rights organizations, it has been the deadliest year for Muslims in the United States. So far, there have been 63 recorded attacks on mosques nationwide; 17 of those attacks occurred in November of this year. After the San Bernardino shootings, the top Google search in California with the word “Muslims” in it was “kill Muslims.” This trend of racism and Islamophobia is nothing new. This is a result of historical vilification of Arabs and Muslims in the United States. This vilification intensifies as politicians and media outlets exploit tragedies like 9/11 and San Bernardino. We are witnessing this vilification and political exploitation further militarizes law enforcement and increase surveillance on the community and their site of worship on the bias basis of “national security.”
Community based organizations throughout the Bay Area are joining forces to develop tools to respond to hate crimes and racism in order to protect families and loved ones.
The event in front of City Hall was organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and endorsed by Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA), A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Bay Area, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Bay Area Women in Black, Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), Council on American Islamic Relations, Gray Panthers of SF, International Socialist Organization, Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area, Queers Undermining Israeli Terror, San Francisco Central Committee of the Peace and Freedom Party, Workers World Party, World Can’t Wait, and Yaseen Foundation.
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