Terror Imam Siraj Wahhaj and Al Qaeda linked Muslim American Society leads cartoon demo in New York
Al Muhajiroun aka Islamic Thinkers Society co organisers of anti cartoon protest
HATE" SPEECH IS NOT "FREE" SPEECH
DATE: Friday, February 17, 2006
PLACE: Danish Consulate on 2nd Ave. and 48th street
TIME: 12:01 pm to 3:00 pm
NOTE: Jumu'ah khutba will start at 1:00 pm
For More Information:
Please call us at: 917-238-9744, 631-334-3301, 917-770-3505, 917-549-3707, 718-739-7300, 718-232-5905
PLEASE JOIN IN AND RAISE YOUR VOICE
Islamic Thinkers Society, MAS(Muslim American Society); ICNA(Islamic Cirlcle of North America); AMA(American Muslim Alliance); BAIS(bangladesh-American Islamic Society; Majlis Ash-Shura of NY Metropolitan Area; Muslim Center of NY; Jamaica Muslim Center; Islamic Center of Long Island; Makki Masjid; Masjid Baitul Jannah & Community Center; LIMS(Long Island Muslim Society); Arab Muslim American Federation; Masjid Omar Ben Abdel Azziz; Masjid Baitul Mukarram; Masjid Al-Aman; Madina Masjid; Shah Jalal Masjid; Bangladesh Muslim Center; Patterson Jalalabad Jame Masjid; Abu Huraira Masjid; Woodside-Sunnyside Jame Masjid; Masjid Baitul -Aman; CCJM in USA & Canada; Masjid Darus Salam; As-Safa Islamic Center, Brooklyn Broadway Jame' Masjid, Masjid Al-Hera and others
Poster from the Muslim Thinkers website
BY CAROL EISENBERG
February 18, 2006
An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 Muslims protested peacefully across from the Danish Consulate in Manhattan Friday in the largest U.S. rally to date against a Danish newspaper's decision to publish caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.
"We have to restrain our anger," urged Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who led Friday prayers before hundreds of people who were prostrate on tarps, plastic bags and rugs laid atop wet asphalt. "We have to make our response productive, so that they never do this again."
While the cartoons have provoked worldwide furor, including the burning of Danish embassies in several countries in the Middle East, only a handful of protests have occurred in this country. An earlier protest at the same plaza two weeks ago drew several hundred people.
Friday's event represented an unusual show of unity by a community that has often been stratified along ethnic, national and even religious lines. African-American, South Asian and Arab speakers all sounded the same themes of pain and anger about the caricatures, initially published by the newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. Nearly all also decried the violent reaction in such places as Syria, Lebanon and Pakistan as "un-Islamic" and challenged followers to use the furor to educate non-Muslims about their faith.
"This calamity - look what has come out of it," Wahhaj said. "When is the last time you remember having a collective jumma prayer like this?"
Wahhaj likened the response to the rioting in American cities that followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. While King's death was not the cause of the riots, he said, it served as a catalyst because the loss was seen as a symbol of the deprivations suffered by African-Americans. Likewise, he said, the extreme Muslim reaction to the cartoons relates to the political and economic oppression of Muslims in parts of the world.
Others sounded the notion that free speech must be coupled with certain responsibilities.
"We support free speech, not reckless speech," said Maher El Jamal of the Muslim American Society. "We support driving through the streets of New York, but we do not support drunken driving."
Four of the rally's organizers met with the Danish ambassador to relate their concerns about what they describe as the demonization of Muslims in that country, as the protest was still underway.
By and large, the demeanor of the crowd was low-key. "Show tolerance, not hate," read at least a dozen placards. But there were also more pointed signs. One man, who waved a poster that warned, "Insult the Prophet, you will pay, Allah's wrath is on the way," was surrounded by security guards and encouraged to leave the plaza.
A New York Muslim group has staged a prayer protest outside the Danish mission to the United Nations over the cartoons affair. While protests in other parts of the world have been often marked by violence, the New York demonstration was a model of calm.
New York City Muslims hold a peaceful demonstration near the U.N. headquarters Friday against the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.
The demonstration was aimed at the Danish mission and organized by a group calling itself the Islamic Circle of North America. The Imams of local mosques led their congregations to assemble for prayer at the protest site.
Kaleema Alameen, a native New Yorker, says the goal of the demonstration is to challenge the wide misperception of the Muslim people as violent.
"It is showing that, you know, we Muslims do not stand for violence. And it was very disrespectful to all Muslims all over. It made a mockery of our religion. And our religion does not promote violence. You know, they feel, because of the World Trade (Center), all Muslims are, you know, evil, or promote violence, and it is not true," she said.
Demonstrators held signs that read, Stop Bigotry, Learn History, Show Tolerance, Not Hate, and Denmark Must Apologize.
Hassain, a demonstrator originally from Sudan, says it is important for European newspapers that printed the cartoons to apologize to the Muslim community. "They have to apologize for what they have done. We are Muslim, we do not see Muhammad. We are Muslim, we never know. We do not know how he looks. How did they get that picture and put a bomb in his hand? You know what I mean? Why did they put his picture over there? We do not know his picture, how he look like. We do not know," she said.
New York City police contained the demonstration within one city block. Barricades lined the sides of the street, and police officers stood by to keep protestors under control. One demonstrator says that while he hopes for the success of the peaceful protest, he feels limited by the formalities involved.
People in the Middle East, as you know, they are in their own countries. And, they are not restricted like the Muslims in America, and the Muslims in the European countries. They are limited here. Yes, you have the right to demonstrate, but you are limited, you see. You have to keep a certain distance. You are not allowed to do all this stuff. You will not be able to get excited.
About 400 Muslims joined together in prayer at the demonstration. Protesters condemned the cartoon publications and said that the Prophet Muhammad was a peaceful man and Islam is a peaceful religion. They prayed for the end of the violent protests in the Middle East.