The Anti-Muslim group ACT for America is planning to hold a rally in Seattle on the weekend. A similar protest was planed for Portland until Mayor Ted Wheeler canceled this event in the aftermath of two men having been murdered and a third wounded in their attempt to stop harassment against two Muslim women. As has been reported, people from Portland are traveling to join Seattleites for the protest.
On their website, ACT for America writes that “our nation is built on freedom of religion – a pillar of our democracy – which we must always respect, protect, and honor.” However, ACT founder Brigitte Tudor has been quoted as saying that a “practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”
Really? In her view, it appears that the more than three million Muslims living in the U.S. are un-American and must be thrown out.
ACT for America has been able to mobilize people in more than 20 cities for a protest similar to the one planned for Seattle. But how can a group like this gain such momentum as to be able to organize hate demonstrations in the United States? The answer is easy and can be summarized with two words: President Trump.Stymied by lower court rulings alleging discrimination, President Trump has now escalated his ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries to the Supreme Court.
There is a saying in the Iranian language of Farsi: “If the head of a village steals a chicken, you cannot expect much from the rest of the villagers.” Can it not also be said that if the President of the United States pursues a discriminatory policy against Muslims that the citizens in alignment with him would not act in kind through anti-Muslim protests?
Holding an anti-Muslim protest in Seattle (or anywhere) is similar to holding an anti-Bahai’ rally in Tehran, or an anti-Jewish rally on the West Bank. Respected municipal officials certainly wouldn’t object to such protests for political reasons. But what if the focus of these rallies was reversed?
The anti-Muslim rally cannot be viewed as an altogether evil act. Abraham Lincoln once said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”
Perhaps Act for America thinks they are meeting a national crisis through this demonstration. But if they were open to discovering the real facts, what better time to determine these than during the holy month of Ramadan, a time the Koran orders believers to act peacefully. Were they to partake with Muslims in Iftar, the meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan, they might learn the real facts. Provided, of course, they don’t bring beer!
Sara Jamshidi is an Iranian-American journalist, and founder of Goltune, a digital magazine focusing on Muslim women news, fashion and lifestyle.