‘Systemic Islamophobia’ attacked at rally at Fountain Square.
By Tim Moran
Several organizations throughout the North Shore and Chicagoland gathered in one of America’s most progressive cities last weekend to show solidarity with Muslims.
More than 100 heard speeches and sounded off that anti-Muslim bigotry is unacceptable at Fountain Square in Evanston last Sunday.
Groups that were part of the event came up with the following declaration during the rally:
“Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim are enduring vitriolic, frightening levels of hate and violence throughout the country- being spit on, verbally harassed and abused, physically assaulted, and even shot. This hate and violence do not exist in a vacuum. It takes place in the context of ongoing and systemic Islamophobia and racism that are pervasive and deep within our society.
The undersigned organizations and the Chicagoland community publicly say: We stand against the many ways in which anti-Muslim and xenophobic hatred manifests itself, including hate speech and hate crimes; institutionalized racism and state-sanctioned violence; racial and religious profiling in all its forms; and prejudice that targets refugees and immigrants of all backgrounds.”
The rally was held a few days before terrorist acts at the Brussels Airport in Belgium – presumably organized by the radical group ISIS – claimed the lives of at least 30 people. The Brussels attacks have caused some, including Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, to call for even more profiling of Muslims.
Exactly what groups that participated in Sunday’s rally are vehemently against.
After the rally, groups canvassed businesses and homes to display posters supporting refugees and demand a stop to racial and religious profiling.
Jes Scheinpflug, director of communications for Open Communities – a North Shore-based organization with a mission to promote housing, economic and social justice – addressed the crowd of the historical significance of holding the anti-hate rally in Evanston.
“When Open Communities went door to door, right here in Evanston, in our fight for fair housing, the belief was that people didn’t support integrated housing,” she said. “Few people in positions of power and realtors had given the idea that this was something most people were against. But our founders quickly realized that this wasn’t true. In one-on-one conversations, it was very clear that most neighbors wanted inclusivity and diversity. This is the overwhelming sentiment that Open Communities sees in our 17 north suburban communities.”
Groups in Evanston Sunday were American Friends Service Committee – Chicago, American Muslims for Palestine – Chicago, Arab Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle East, Beth Emet, CAIR-Chicago, Center for Inclusivity, Chicago Area Peace Action, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC), Curt’s Café, First Congregational Church of Evanston, UCC, Forward Humanity, Freedom First International SCLC, GCE Lab School, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Jewish Voice for Peace – Chicago, Lake Street Church of Evanston, Latino Resources, Main Street Alliance, Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, The Musical Offering, Muslim Community Center, North Suburban Teachers Union, Open Communities, Peaceful Communities, People Encouraging Acceptance thru Communication & Education (PEACE), Public Interest Fundraising, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Roman Catholic Order of the Society of the Divine Word at Techny, Second Baptist Church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Tzedek Chicago, Unitarian Church of Evanston and YWCA Evanston/Northshore.