PI Original Ellyn Fortino Thursday September 29th, 2016, 1:58pm

Illinois Elected Officials Join National Coalition Of Lawmakers In Denouncing ‘Hate, Anti-Muslim Bigotry’

In the face of a 2016 election season fraught with divisive rhetoric, over 500 elected officials from across the country, including Illinois, are uniting to “reject hate and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

In the midst of a divisive 2016 election season, over 500 elected leaders from across the country, including Illinois, joined forces Thursday to “reject hate and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

The officials ranging from state representatives and mayors to aldermen and school board members released an open letter, pledging to use their “positions as elected leaders to stand up against anti-Muslim bigotry, against xenophobia, against hatred, and against oppression.”

The letter is part of a new nationwide campaign called “American Leaders Against Hate and Anti-Muslim Bigotry.” 

“The 2016 electoral season has featured dangerous levels of xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and racist rhetoric, as well as a devastating rise in hate crimes,” the letter reads. “This rhetoric and violence is not only a threat to our communities, but it also strikes directly against the most cherished and basic rights guaranteed by our nation’s Constitution: liberty, due process, freedom of religion, and equality under law.

“We write this open letter to stand with the Muslims, Arabs, South Asians, and Sikhs across the United States as they endure threats, harassment, violence, and inexcusable political rhetoric. Our message is unmistakable: we thank you for serving your communities and we are proud to have you beside us as full and equal members of the American family.”

Local Progress, a network of progressive local elected officials from around the country, and People for the American Way’s Young Elected Officials Network Action (YEO Action) organized the letter. 

“This letter marks the start of a coordinated campaign in cities across the country to push back on the increasing attacks against immigrants and Muslims, which have reached levels unseen since September 11th,” Ady Barkan, co-director of Local Progress, said on a conference call with reporters. “In the coming weeks, dozens of cities are going to be passing resolutions reiterating this message of inclusion and laying the groundwork for public policy reforms in 2017.”

Eleven Chicago aldermen were among the Illinoisans who signed the letter. They include Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) and Progressive Reform Caucus members Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th), Roderick Sawyer (6th), Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), Toni Foulkes (16th), David Moore (17th), Ricardo Munoz (22nd); Chris Taliaferro (29th), Scott Waguespack (32nd), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) and John Arena (45th).

The other Illinois-based signees were Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (7th District); Champaign County Board Member Shana Jo Harrison (9th District); Vance Wyatt, board president of North Chicago’s Foss Park District; Mary Kay Prusnick, board of education secretary for Schaumburg Community Consolidated School District 54; and Riverdale Park District Commissioner Byron Stanley.

“As elected representatives, we say to those of you who are in the streets fighting for your lives to matter, who hear yourselves described as murderers and rapists by candidates for the nation’s highest offices, who fear for the safety of your children in your places of worship: We are on your side,” the letter states. “We see the richness and beauty of your lives and we know that America cannot thrive unless you do.”

The letter does not specially mention Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“One of the reasons why I joined this campaign is because it wasn’t about Donald Trump,” Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, said of the newly launched anti-hate campaign. 

The “political rhetoric — in particular the anti-Muslim rhetoric that we’ve been hearing — has, first of all, existed for many years before there was ever a Donald Trump,” she explained. 

“It’s really important to me that the message that we’re sending is to anyone — whether you are a very local elected official, whether you are a state legislator, whether you are a member of Congress — that engaging in any hateful rhetoric against Muslims is unacceptable,” Sarsour continued. “When you focus in on Donald Trump, what you’re essentially doing is you are erasing many years of impact of political rhetoric on communities across the country.”

U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN,7), one of two Muslim members of Congress, is also involved with the new anti-hate campaign.

“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, I think any call to restrict our freedom of religion has to be and must be condemned,” Carson said. “Candidates must know that if they are elected, it will not be because of hateful comments, because an attack on my faith today is an attack on your faith tomorrow. And as a Muslim, I will not stand to see that happen.”

Image: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast



 I’ve been trying to say this since 911, but you worry me. I wish you didn’t. I wish when I walked down the streets of this country that I love, that your color and culture still blended with the beautiful human landscape we enjoy in this country. But you don’t blend in anymore. I notice you, and it worries me.

 I notice you because I can’t help it anymore. People from your homelands, professing to be Muslims, have been attacking and killing my fellow citizens and our friends for more than 20 years now. I don’t fully understand their grievances and hate, but I know that nothing can justify the inhumanity of their attacks.

 On September 11, ARAB-MUSLIMS hijacked four jetliners in my country. They cut the throats of women in front of children and brutally stabbed to death others. They took control of those planes and crashed them into buildings, killing thousands of proud fathers, loving sons, wise grandparents, elegant daughters, best friends, favorite coaches, fearless public servants, and children’s mothers.

The Palestinians celebrated, the Iraqis were overjoyed as was most of the Arab world. So, I notice you now. I don’t want to be worried. I don’t want to be consumed by the same rage, hate and prejudice that has destroyed the soul of these terrorists.  But I need your help. As a rational American, trying to protect my country and family in an irrational and unsafe world, I must know how to tell the difference between you, and the Arab/Muslim terrorist.

 How do I differentiate between the true Arab/Muslim Americans and the Arab/Muslim terrorists in our communities who are attending our schools, enjoying our parks, and living in OUR communities under the protection of OUR constitution, while they plot the next attack that will slaughter MORE of the same good neighbors and children?

 The events of September 11 changed the answer.. It is not MY responsibility to determine which of you embraces our great country, with ALL of its religions, with ALL of its different citizens, with all of its faults. It is time for every Arab/Muslim in this country to determine it for me.

 I want to know, I DEMAND to know and I have a right to know, whether or not you love America ….. Do you pledge allegiance to its flag? Do you proudly display it in front of your house, or on your car? Do you pray in your many daily prayers that Allah will bless this nation; that He will protect it and let it prosper? Or do you pray that Allah will destroy it in one of your Jihads? Are you thankful for the freedom that this nation affords? A freedom that was paid for by the blood of hundreds of thousands of patriots who gave their lives for this country? Are you willing to preserve this freedom by also paying the ultimate sacrifice? Do you love America?? If this is your commitment, then I need YOU to start letting ME know about it

 Your Muslim leaders in this nation should be flooding the media at this time with what hard actions YOU are taking as a community and a so-called religion* to protect the United States of America. 

*  Islam is NOT a bonafied religion, nor is it a cult. In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life. 
Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The “religious” component is a COVER-UP for all of the other components.  They conventionally practice genocide (infidels), honor killings, female suppression and mutilation, demonic brutality, vandalism, and sweeping hate.
Now you know why Winston Churchill called Islam ‘the most retrograde force in the world’, and why he compared Mein Kampf to the Quran.  

Please, no more benign overtures of regret for the death of the innocent, because I worry about who you regard as innocent. No more benign overtures of condemnation for the unprovoked attacks, because I worry about what is unprovoked to you. I am not interested in any more sympathy; I am interested only in action. What will you do for America – our great country – at this time of crisis, at this time of war?

 I want to see Arab-Muslims waving the AMERICAN flag in the streets. I want to hear you chanting ‘Allah Bless America’. I want to see young Arab/Muslim men enlisting in the military. I want to see a commitment of money, time and emotion to the victims of this butchering and to this nation as a whole.

 The FBI has a list of over 400 people they want to talk to regarding the WTC  attack. Many of these people live and socialize right now in Muslim communities. You know them. You know where they are. Hand them over to us, NOW! But I have seen little even approaching this sort of action. Instead I have seen an already closed and secretive community close even tighter. You have disappeared from the  streets. You have posted armed security guards at your facilities. You have threatened lawsuits. You have screamed for protection from reprisals.

 The very few Arab/Muslim representatives that HAVE appeared in the media were defensive and equivocating. They seemed more concerned with making sure that the United States proves who was responsible before taking action. They seemed more concerned with protecting their fellow Muslims from violence directed towards them in the United States and abroad than they did with supporting our country and denouncing ‘leaders’ like Khadafi, Hussein, Farrakhan, and Arafat.

 IF the true teachings of Islam proclaim tolerance and peace and love for all people, then I want chapter and  verse from the Koran and statements from popular Muslim leaders to back it up. What good is it if the teachings in the Koran are good, pure, and  true, when your ‘leaders’ ARE teaching fanatical interpretations, terrorism, and intolerance? It matters little how good Islam SHOULD BE if huge numbers of the world’s Muslims interpret the teachings of Mohammed incorrectly and adhere to a degenerative form of the religion. A form that has been demonstrated to us over and over again. A form whose structure is built upon a foundation of violence, death, and suicide. A form whose members are recruited from the prisons around the world. A form whose members (some as young as five years old) are seen day after day, week in and week out, year after year, marching in the streets around the world, burning effigies of our presidents, burning the American flag, shooting weapons into the air. A form whose members convert from a peaceful religion, only to take up arms against the great United States of America, the country of their birth. A form whose rules are so twisted, that their traveling members refuse to show their faces at airport security checkpoints, in the name of Islam.

 We will NEVER allow the attacks of September 11, or any others for that matter, to take away that which is so precious to us — our rights under the greatest constitution in the world. I want to know where every Arab Muslim in this country stands and I think it is my right and the right of every true citizen of this country to DEMAND it. A right paid for by the blood of thousands of my brothers and sisters who died protecting the very constitution that is protecting you and your family.

I am pleading with you to let me know. I want you here as my brother, my neighbor, my friend, as a fellow American…… But there can be no grey areas or ambivalence regarding your allegiance, and it is up to YOU, to  show ME, where YOU stand. Until then, “YOU  WORRY ME!”


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