To view a livestream recording of the Interfaith Action, click HERE.
For photos from the event, click HERE.
Today at JFK International Airport, the New York Immigration Coalition and Majlis Al Shura: The Islamic Leadership Council of Greater NY held a special interfaith rally and Jummah prayer to stand with New York's Muslim and immigrant communities facing anti-immigrant and Islamophobic attacks by the Federal government.
Jummah prayer is a congregational prayer (ṣalāt) that Muslims hold every Friday. Last Friday's interfaith action that occurred in Foley Square was a powerful demonstration of solidarity with New York's Muslim and immigrant communities. Today, the action was held at JFK International Airport, outside Terminal 4, where immigrants and travelers have been detained, held, and questioned. While New York’s Muslim communities participated in the public Jummah prayer at JFK, allies and interfaith clergy linked arms to protect the prayer.
Since last week, dozens of individuals from the seven Muslim countries banned by President Trump's executive orders have been detained at JFK, as well as removed from airplanes coming to the United States. Refugees who have been in a two-year process to secure their documents to come to the U.S are now being refused entry. Additionally, the visas of students, workers, and other travelers outside the U.S are being cancelled.
In a show of force, dozens of people attended today’s action. While New York’s Muslim community conducted their Jummah Prayer, interfaith clergy and allies linked arms, surrounding the prayer in a show of solidarity and protection.
Muzna Ansari, immigration policy manager at the New York Immigration Coalition, who moderated the program, said, “New York is home to 4.3 million immigrants and it is essential that we do everything we can to protect them against these anti-immigrant executive orders. As we conduct this Jummah Prayer today, we do so for all the immigrants affected by these inhumane executive orders issues that do not keep our country safe. The NYIC is committed to fighting for a complete reversal of these executive orders and protecting members of our Muslim and immigrant communities. As a Muslim woman myself, I am heartened by the tremendous momentum achieved by diverse New York communities. We are showing the new administration that our New York is welcoming, inclusive, and will not rest until we receive justice.”
Imam Al-Hajj Tali 'Abdur-Rashid of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood opened the service and was joined by several people from the interfaith community. He said, “These Executive Orders are discriminatory and stigmatizing to an American community in its entirety, the Muslim community in this case. They are full of Islamophobia, xenophobia, and hate and fear mongering. Morally, they are un-American, and legally they are unconstitutional due their discriminatory nature.”
In addition, Suzanne Loebl, a 91-year old Brooklynite who came to the United States a refugee fleeing the Holocaust, joined in solidarity, saying, “I am a very old ex-refugee and identify with anyone who shares my status. I was born in Germany to Jewish parents. I was eight years old when Hitler came to power, twelve when we fled to nearby Belgium, fifteen when the Nazis invaded that country, and seventeen when I went into hiding to save my life. I left Europe on my 21st birthday, to join my father in New York. The U.S. gave me a chance to have an education, a profession and a family of my own. I am here today to pay my debts. I stand with today’s refugees and immigrants and demand a reversal of the recent executive orders, which are unjust and not reflective of the country’s soul.”
Tahanie Aboushi, a volunteer lawyer who has been supporting the legal efforts at JFK and is a steering committee member of the #NoBanJFK response team, said, "We cannot stand by and permit our country to fall back into the dark times of its history. President Trump has traumatized families who have been separated by his Executive Order, which is in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States. I will continue to fight for Muslims across New York to ensure that they are not victimized by the federal government in the streets and in court. "
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees. The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.