Muslim Americans are being urged to overcome their own racism to stand against law enforcement and with protesters in the Ferguson, Mo shooting case. Even so far as to liken it to Gaza. Muslim writer Dean Obeidalla writes for The Daily Beast:
“It’s never been exactly cozy between American Muslims and African Americans. But with Ferguson—and Gaza—that’s changing.
The Muslim-American community of which I’m part hasn’t been great in standing up with and for African Americans. A lack of empathy and racism are the main culprits. What makes this especially astonishing is that 30 percent of the Muslim-American population is African-American. You would think that there would be natural alliances, but that hasn’t been the case. At least not up until now.
The shooting of Michael Brown and the heavy-handed response by the police that followed has struck a nerve among Muslims. It has motivated American-Muslim leaders to speak out publicly in ways we hadn’t seen before on police misconduct directed against African Americans.
Why? A few reasons. But one that can’t be discounted is Gaza. More specifically, young Palestinians who commented on Twitter about the shooting of Michael Brown drew direct connections between the two.
For example, Inas Safadi, a Palestinian living in Gaza, tweeted: “Revolution of#Ferguson, can’t be prouder of these people who won’t let their son’s blood go for nothing #MikeBrown.” Another tweeted a photo of himself holding a sign that read, “The Palestinian people know what means to be shot while unarmed for your ethnicity” #Ferguson #justice.”
Other Palestinians, including a doctor, even offered advice via Twitter to the protesters in Ferguson on how to deal with the tear gas being fired at them based on their own experiences with Israeli security forces. Comments included, “Don’t keep much distance from the police, if you’re close to them they can’t tear gas. To#Ferguson from #Palestine.” Another tweeted: “Always make sure to run against the wind/to keep calm when you’re teargased, the pain will pass, don’t rub your eyes! #Ferguson Solidarity.”
CAIR and ISNA are jumping into the fray:
“The St. Louis Chapter of the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent a letter to the Brown family signed by the leaders of the 18 Islamic Centers in the area representing more than 100,000 Muslims. In it, they expressed their condolences and called for justice, noting: “We know that unarmed black men are killed at an alarming rate in this country.”
and “ISNA, another prominent Muslim-American organization, released a statement on August 13 calling for a federal investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. The group also demanded justice for other unarmed black men recently killed by law enforcement..”