By Imam Shamsi Ali *)
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, Since Donald Trump began his 2016 campaign, acts of racism, hate and violence across the United States have been surfacing in different parts of the United States. Over the past few months, after the election the election of Donald trump, these trends have grown both in frequency and intensity.
These deliberate attacks target people of minority, including Muslims, Jews, Africans, Hispanics, and other minority groups in the society, and mostly motivated by ignorance, hatred, and arrogance.
The killing of a Hindu scholar recently, and the shooting of a Sikh man in Seattle three days ago are a few to mention of that violent and hate crimes in this country.
Indeed, the United States of America has long been and well known a beacon of religious tolerance and diversity. This country is founded on a solid constitution that, not only grants religious freedom, but guarantees and protects it.
As a proud New Yorker, I must say with pride that New York has been and will be always a special place for religious freedom and tolerance. Here in this greatest city in the world where all are respected whoever they are and whatever their backgrounds are.
New York City is the home of almost every single human race, ethnicity and religious tradition, and even those do not affiliate to any religion find it as their habitat.
Sadly, these days, this great city has been effected by poisonous hate and racism, clearly intensified by Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States of America.
Let it be known, American Muslims have been for long time an integral part of this beautiful America. Living their lives in America as other Americans do.
They are politicians, lawyers, educators, artists, businessmen, taxi drivers, pilots, sport people, law enforcement officers, and even many have died in defending America and its great values.
Yet often their Americanism is being questioned, and even some racists have called them to leave the country the belong to and love dearly. It seems that America is going back in line to its dark history.
Last month an employee at JFK airport New York was abused, mocked and physically assaulted because of her faith.
Also, last month an MTA worker was pushed down the stairs because of her faith too.
Over the last week, President Trump has attempted to disguise his harsh and bigoted immigration policies with a populist rhetoric that deceitfully signals a shift in his tone—but don’t be fooled. The Executive Order put forward by the Administration just Monday, March 6th, may use different words to describe a Muslim ban, but their intentions remain the same: to normalize discrimination based on religion and ethnicity.
President Donald Trump’s latest version of an ungenerous, un-American, and, we anticipate, unconstitutional Muslim Travel Ban. Once again in the name of “National Security” the President seeks to turn religious bigotry into law and continues to fan the flames of fear and prejudice. President Trump’s second attempt to evade time-tested and deeply held American principles of fairness, equality, and religious freedom that have made this country a beacon to the world for so many generations is nothing less than an embarrassment to the nation.
Also, the Jewish Community in the past few weeks alone have been a target of bias and hate. No doubt, anti-Semitism and hate against American Jews is on the rise.
Two weeks ago, more than 100 headstones of an historical Jewish cemetery were destroyed in St Louis, Missouri.
This past weekend alone, 11 Jewish Community Centers across the country were victims of bomb threats, including the ADL head quarter in New York, bringing the total to 69 hate crimes targeting 54 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states since January.
Racist behaviors against the African and Hispanic communities continue to grow. Violence against other minority groups are also growing day by day. These dark incidents in America threaten to cloud the founding principles of freedom and equal rights for all Americans. These are evils, these are our shared enemies, and these are un-American.
But just as the Statue of Liberty's torch rises in the harbor of New York City, I am confident that it will inspire New Yorkers and Americans alike to stand up against hate and prejudice. A few days ago, on the 19th of February in the heart of NY City, Times Square, I stood with many thousands New Yorkers and hundreds of interfaith leaders at a rally in solidarity with the Muslim community.
That sea of non-Muslims filled up many blocks in Time Square, New York City on that day gave me an immense hope and optimism that by its people America will remain America. “We the people”, as the US Constitution begins, instills that hope and optimism in us. It builds self-confidence, that America is still the land of hope, the land of freedom and justice for all.
America will remain that land where immigrants and refugees are welcome with loving and compassionate hearts. The land where diversity, tolerance and religious freedom are embraced and highly respected. The land where every individual regardless of background will have the opportunity to pursue the “American dreams”.
As our City symbolizes it, we New Yorkers affirm our commitment to reject the building of walls. Instead, we will build stronger bridges, so that we can connect our common humanity for our common destiny.
*) President of Nusantara Foundation.