April 24, 2016, Washington, DC –- Hundreds of Muslims from Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia gathered at the Shady Grove Campus of University of Maryland in Rockville, and were joined by fellow citizens who were Hindus, Jews, Christians, Sikhs and others for the “American Muslims for Hillary” rally. What a rally it was! 510 people participated in the event given the short notice and the event competing with beautiful outdoor weather.
Muslims came to show their support. Some of them were Republicans and some were supporters of Bernie, and some were independent, but together they came for a higher purpose; to support the idea of an inclusive America.
Some of us will certainly do the same for Bernie Sanders, and some would do this for Trump, if he wereto pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all, with an emphasis on liberty and justice for all.
The American Muslims have made a commitment to begin all their civic programs with the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem. To make it even better, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts honored the event with the color guard and the pledge of allegiance. The Scouts and Zaynab Girls singing ensemble are non partisan, and did this as a service to the community.
The Key note speaker, Congressman Elijah Cumming’s opening statement was, “When I saw those Muslim girls in Hijab take the Pledge of Allegiance, Salute the Flag and Sing the National Anthem, a chill ran through my body” and he wished whole of America could see this heartwarming sight.
Congressman Cummings emphasized the importance of getting out and vote; this is a critical election to elect the right leader to lead the nation at this juncture.
Hon. John Podesta, Chairman of the committee to elect Hillary Clinton for President focused on inclusive polices of her. He narrated the story, when President Bill Clinton was visiting the 9/11 site in a morning, and a man standing nearby was crying, when the President approached him the man identified himself an Egyptian American Muslim, and was crying and praying over the loss of lives of 2998 Americans, and Mr. Podesta said, the President wished that fellow Americans saw this. Indeed, we are all in this together in our suffering and in our joys.
Tom Perez started out with a powerful story telling one of the many times he experienced the ‘Best’ as well as the ‘Worst’ in America. He said President Obama dispatched him to visit the construction site of the Mosque in Murfreesboro Tennessee where fellow Americans were protesting against building a Mosque, and to make sure no laws were violated. The story ends with the ‘Best’ action in America when the Mosque was finally built and opened to the public; the Rabbis, Pastors and clergy from other faiths welcomed it by attending the opening ceremonies.
This was an initiative of Muslim leadership led by Dr. Islam Siddiqui and Mr. Tufail Ahmed, and was made possible with the help of Terry Lierman, former chairman of the Democratic party of Maryland.
Tufail Ahmed, the Muslim Community leader said, “His (Mr. Lierman) magnificent effort to bring three major speakers in one place is appreciated by the Muslim community, indeed, it was a good team effort.”
Sultan Chowdhury adds, “We achieved our objective of making a foot-print for the Muslims in the political process. Muslims of all diverse background were in the audience. We’re on the radar, and have to move on!”
Tariq Hussain observes, “how proud he felt when he saw those self confident, Hijab wearing teens took the Pledge of Allegiance, salute the Flag and sang the National Anthem.”
As an independent voter, I attended the rally and am pleased with the outcome; there is support for inclusive attitudes.
A few months ago, my interfaith friend, Mr. Gary Sampliner asked us in a meeting, what can we do to ease the tension for Muslims created by the current political rhetoric? I cannot tell you how good it felt, and how much hope it gave. Indeed, it restores trust in humanity and the promise of America that we are all created equal. The most important thing for Muslims at this time is an acknowledgement that each one of us has the same aspirations and dreams, and the same need for a safe and a secure environment to live and let live. What the bad guys do should not reflect on Muslims or anyone who has not committed a crime.
If we punish the wrong doer, justice and trust is restored in the society. That is the right thing to do. On the other hand if you blame the religion, what happens? Not a thing! You cannot beat, kill, hang, shoot, kick or bury the religion, it is intangible for God’s sake. No justice or relief is restored for the society, and people would remain apprehensive.
In today’s rally – Muslims got that acknowledgement from Congressman Elijah Cummings, Hon. John Podesta and the Labor Secretary Tom Perez. They stood in front of the banner that said, “American Muslims for Hillary” and the room was festive with Patriotic Songs played continuously starting with Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism and interfaith matters, and is committed to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day.