At a time of economic downturn and environmental catastrophe, virulent attacks on all immigrant communities and Communities of Color have become more visible and publicly acceptable in the mainstream, as reflected in the Arizona SB1070, the national anti-immigrant “Secure Communities” Act, anti-Muslim statements from SF Police Chief George Gascon, and the many Islamophobic acts related to the announcement of the Park 51 Community Center in Lower Manhattan.
We are in a time of enhanced enforcement of racist laws when this more overt racism is becoming once again publicly acceptable. However, these attacks are not a new phenomenon, but rather a continuation of a specific type of racism that seeks to label immigrant and Muslim communities as “un-patriotic” and “un-American” and hence less than deserving of equal rights or even of human rights. In a time of division tactics and wedge politics from both the religious Right and liberal politicians, Communities of Color and working class communities must unite against these racist attacks.
Islamophobic acts such as the Mosque burning and violence in Tennessee and New York, the stabbing of Ahmed Sharif in Manhattan, the “Burn a Koran Day” in Florida, and ongoing racist media portrayals are all pieces of a larger Imperial project of the US that seeks continued violence, exploitation, and control of Third World countries. Islamophobia continues to be used as another tool for political, social, and economic power by both liberal and conservative forces in the US and internationally.
Racist statements about Muslims provide so-called legitimacy to continued US-intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Palestine; by advancing an agenda that our peoples are not fit to govern ourselves. It is this same racism and Islamophobia that gives supposed moral justification for the ongoing genocide of Iraqi civilians over the last 20 years, since the first sanctions were applied to Iraq and up through the present Occupation. The current attention placed on the Park 51 Community Center deliberately distracts from the simultaneous “withdrawal” of US combat troops from Iraq, allowing the media to once again ignore the unrelenting plight of the Iraqi people while also providing a pretense for prolonged domination of Iraq by US government and corporate interests.
Indeed, the land we now call the US has a similar history of Occupation at the great expense of the genocide of indigenous people and enslavement of Africans. In the recent discourse on Park 51, those who use social and political control to claim “Ground Zero” as their property make no mention of Manhattan being built on the graves of enslaved Africans, nor its theft from indigenous Lenape peoples, but rather use language to exert capitalist ownership and social control over this land, similar to US military ownership over the lands it occupies. We must resist the attempts to stop Park 51, not only for this Community Center, but because this is part of a larger effort to even further marginalize Muslim and Arab communities.
Under more overt racist attacks we encourage more vigilance and unity among all those communities resisting racism. The Arab community must cultivate our movements to stand strong and united with other communities of conscience for human rights and liberation for all peoples. Here are some actions you can take:
- We urge those facing discrimination or hate violence to call AROC at 415-861-7444 to register a complaint and seek support.
- Attend the upcoming Human Rights Commission hearing on racial profiling and surveillance of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities on September 23 at 6pm. Info here: www.safeSF.org
- Get involved with AROC by calling 415-861-7444 to join our next membership meeting or find out about other ways to plug in — visit www.araborganizing.org
- Take time to connect with and learn about other communities’ struggles. Challenge Racism within your own communities and networks.
- Make a donation to help us continue our work to empower and organize the Arab community in the Bay Area: CLICK HERE