NEW YORK (RNS) — Leaders of New York-area Muslim organizations gathered at Metropolis Corridor in downtown Manhattan on Thursday (Feb. 8) for the fourth annual Muslim Day, an occasion launched in 2021 to lift the Muslim group’s profile and produce its issues to the eye of the Metropolis Council.
The initiative was launched by Emgage, an 13-year-old group that works to extend Muslim voters’ mobilization. Emgage was joined this yr by two dozen different organizations doing work throughout the town on behalf of migrants and Muslim enterprise homeowners, whereas additionally empowering Muslim girls.
Apart from offering Muslims an opportunity to attach with political representatives, Muslim Day can also be an event to have a good time the contribution of Muslim New Yorkers, who at an estimated 1 million folks signify about 11% of the town’s inhabitants.
Heba Khalil, director of Emgage’s New York chapter, started the occasion by acknowledging how the group’s affect had grown. She famous the stark distinction with the post-9/11 years when Muslim New Yorkers have been frequent victims of Islamophobia and marginalized politically.
“I’ve seen our voting numbers enhance, I’ve seen main impacts on elections and legislative modifications. I’ve seen our younger leaders getting increasingly concerned in management roles. Days like immediately are a good time to take a second and have a good time our collective energy,” stated Khalil.
The occasion was endorsed by the Metropolis Council’s two Muslim members, Shahana Hanif and Yusef Salaam. Salaam, elected this yr to signify Harlem on the council, is likely one of the Central Park 5, a gaggle of Black youngsters wrongfully convicted within the sexual assault of a Central Park jogger in 1989.
“What we’re doing right here is about actually exposing the group, the society, the nation, to the great thing about what it’s to be Muslim,” stated Salaam.
The main target of the fourth Muslim Day was the continued warfare between Israel and Hamas. Members of the taking part organizations gathered with group leaders and Metropolis Council members on the steps of Metropolis Corridor to name for a everlasting cease-fire in Gaza and denounced a surge in Islamophobia in New York Metropolis associated to the warfare.
“One of many greatest issues that we’re additionally going through is the worry of retaliation for solidarity with Palestine amongst Muslim and pro-Palestinian activists since Oct. 7,” stated Emgage’s Khalil.
Metropolis Council members Chi Ossé, Amanda Farias and Alexa Avilès joined the decision for a cease-fire.
Youssef Mubarez, director of public relations for the Yemeni American Retailers Affiliation, stated the surge in Islamophobia has taken a toll on the 100,000 Muslim-owned companies within the metropolis. Armed robberies have change into extra frequent, leaving bodega homeowners in worry, he stated.
Mubarez related the rise in assaults and harassment with the Israel-Hamas warfare, citing for example a latest incident by which an Higher East Aspect halal meals truck vendor was berated by a former State Division staffer.
Mubarez requested Metropolis Council members to contemplate allocating funds for crime prevention coaching for Muslim enterprise homeowners and to help measures that “fight Islamophobia and bias towards these Muslim-owned companies,” he stated.
The Muslim Group Community, a coalition of 12 migrant help organizations, famous Islamophobia’s impact on African Muslim migrants. “Our group faces Islamophobia, anti-Arab sentiment, tied to Palestine and anti-Blackness and xenophobia that notably impacts our migrant communities from Africa and all the world over,” stated Husein Yatabarry, the community’s director.
Yatabarry pressured the necessity for cultural sensitivity coaching for NYPD officers to assist them deal pretty with the Muslim group, particularly in taking the necessity to report spiritual bias complaints with extra seriousness.
Diya Basu-Sen, government director of the South Asian advocacy group SapnaNYC, emphasised the necessity for sensible coverage modifications to make New York’s Muslim group really feel extra welcome.
“As we strategy Ramadan, I need to emphasize that we’re in search of actual allyship and solidarity. We don’t need iftars and Eid celebrations, if these don’t additionally include insurance policies and funding to help our 1 million Muslim New Yorkers,” she stated.