“We are here this afternoon affirming our commitment to truth and justice but also standing against injustice,” Imam Al Hadj Talib Abdur-Rashid told a crowd at JFK airport Friday. “We are here in a moment of prayer, in a moment of reflection, celebrating our diversity.”
Abdur-Rashid of Harlem’s Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood had joined hundreds of demonstrators ― Muslims, Christians, Jews and those of many other faiths ― to speak out against the executive order President Donald Trump signed Jan. 27 that limits travel to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Thousands have gathered at the international airport in protest since Trump’s action, which temporarily barred more than 200 million people from entering the U.S., blocked all refugees for 120 days and banned Syrian refugee resettlement indefinitely. (The order has since been suspended for further review by a federal judge.)
Abdur-Rashid made a heartfelt, compelling case for people of all beliefs and origins to unite against what he sees as “falsehood, lies, bigotry and ... extremism of all types being committed by all kinds of different people.”
“That which we have in common is that we’re all human beings, and we all celebrate our diversity, and we stand for justice,” he said, before giving a more detailed explanation of just what justice and community are ― or should be ― based on the writings of Martin Luther King Jr.
Ironically, in working to keep out immigrants and divide Americans, the Trump administration may have united many disparate groups in their opposition to the ban more effectively than the groups would have united on their own.
“We have common interests,” Abdur-Rashid explained to the Los Angeles Times at another rally in New York, one attended by an estimated 10,000 people and at which Jewish delegations played a prominent role. “The same kind of people who bomb synagogues [also] bomb black churches and now mosques.”