A total of five speakers from different communities and racial backgrounds came forward to speak about the issue and to propose possible solutions. The five speakers were;
- Imam Khalid Griggs (Director, ICNA Council for Social Justice)
- Imad Hamad (Executive Director, American Human Rights Council (AHRC))
- Mark Crain (Executive Director, Dream of Detroit),
- Bill Meyer (Executive Director, OneHamtramck LLC)
Saima Khalil (Attorney and candidate for the Macomb County Prosecutor)
Masood Rab started the event with a statement from the Islamic holy scripture of Quran,
“We created the human race from a single male and a single female, and brought forth (from them) nations and tribes to get to know each other and live together. The sign of the successful ones among you in the sight of God Almighty is the piety in them which grows in their life-styles thru adapting the Divine Dictates.” (Chapter 49, Verse 13)
He also reminded of the saying of Prophet Mohammed(peace be upon him) “A white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over a white – except by piety and good action.”
Shujat Khan then proceeded with moderating the meeting.
Imam Khalid Griggs
In his statement, Mr. Griggs targeted the structural racism that runs this country. Among the points that he raised was that opportunities are denied to individuals because of their race, religion or gender every day. This structural racism has to be opposed if change is to be brought. Another common factor that was stressed was the need to be anti-racist. Imam Griggs went on to address Muslims, telling them that their teachings tell them to be anti-racist. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was known to be anti-racist, believing in equality for all. In order to bring positive change, everyone needs to come together despite differences in culture, race, gender, and religion.
The policing system was discussed next. The American policing system has racism built into every aspect. There is no national database outlining the police who have killed others because of discrimination. Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed George Floyd, had a history of discrimination yet no one questioned it. The policing system not only overlooks police who have a history of discrimination but it protects them. Police unions are powerful enough to prevent prosecution. This has to stop. The very people who are supposed to protect civilians are the ones oppressing them. Police officers use excessive amounts of force simply because they can. Of course, not all police officers are racist or bad but when enough of them are, the public stops trusting them as a group. When police officers start to reflect their personal discriminatory feelings onto the public, that’s when the problem starts. Mark Crain stressed the need to defund the police and refund the people. Anything that gives the police more money or resources is not a viable solution. Oppression should not be rewarded with more money. These funds can be redirected towards other pressing issues such as healthcare or education.
The crime against George Floyd affirms racism as a universal challenge. Imad Hamad calls this our “unfortunate reality.” This problem is something that will follow humanity to the end but that does not mean that we surrender to it or accept it. We might not be able to abolish it but we can make our society a thousand times better than what it is now. Even though this racism is deep-rooted into America, it can still be fixed. One thing is clear: enough is enough. We have crossed the point of no return. In order to bring change, we – as people- have to stick together.
Bill Meyer stressed the need for dialog and partnership is constantly. We need to stop sugarcoating the issue. Change is overdue and we need to move forward united against all those who oppress minorities in any country of the world. Whether it be police oppressing blacks in the US, or the RSS oppressing Muslims in Kashmir and India, we need to fight for human rights as a whole. Br. Sujat pointed out during the discussion that RSS’s reach in America, known as HSS, needs to be banned to bring justice to minorities around the world. These unalienable rights are being stripped away from minorities in all corners of our world.
Each of the speakers was asked a question. These questions sought answers that might lead towards what the next step to change would be.
Imam Griggs was asked whether nonviolence results in change; This ideology has not dismantled white supremacy until now. Both Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. both used non-violence to speak up both near both of their lives, it was violence that brought change. We need to regard non-violence as a tactic not a philosophy of life, Imam Griggs stated. The phrase no justice no peace starts to take on a deeper meaning after learning about the lives of our activists in the past.
Imad Hamad was asked how we, as a community, can go after organizations that are known to oppress minorities;
“We cannot be selective or optional with human rights,” he replied. We need to acknowledge that everyone has God given rights that are not man made. These rights cannot be stripped from anyone and we cannot allow them to be stripped off of anyone. Aggression against minorities needs to be condemned. The double standards set by those in power need to be abolished. We need to band together as people and dismantle the system that allows others to have their unalienable rights taken away. We need to stop discriminating against others of different cultures and focus on what is important.
Bill Meyer was asked if teaching about race and religion in school curriculums was an effective way to combat racist; Starting conversation and educating others about racism from a young age prevents racism in the future. Educating little kids about these issues can teach them that the color of someone’s skin does not make someone inferior or superior.
The meeting ended with Imam Khalid praying for positive change and justice. One thing that stood out throughout the meeting was the fact that speaking up brings change. All the protestors who are risking their lives by speaking up are the ones pushing for change. Their united voice stands strong and unwavering. Public pressure is essential if justice is to be brought. If America’s discriminatory system is to change for the better, the people have to fight for it. The people have to stand as one and uphold America’s true ideals.
Article Courtesy: muslimobserver.com