Call to change policy on guns.
Billed as the #SacStandsWithOrlando Rally, over a thousand people from all walks of life gathered at a venue located between Mangos Restaurant and Faces Nightclub on June 12th, to jointly condemn the murderous assault on members of the LGBT community in Orlando, Florida the night before., writes Ras H. Siddiqui. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #orlandoattacks #SacStandsWithOrlando
Faces is a popularly known spot which members of the LGBT community frequents in downtown Sacramento and was chosen as the location for this rally by them. Invited speakers here included Basim Elkarra, Executive Director of the local Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) office, Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg, City Councilmember Steve Hansen, Sacramento LGBT Community Center Board President Carlos Marquez and a host of others. They all gathered at this venue to express a collective outrage on this terrorist act and to show unity in Sacramento’s diversity. And this was also possibly for the first time, that many members of the area Muslim clergy and community attended an event of this nature outside a gay bar, to add their share outrage on this horrific act reportedly carried out by one Omar Mateen, a man with a Muslim name.
One has to share a level of difficulty here in expressing the collective sadness of American Muslims on this latest one in a series of bizarre incidences where members from the community have reportedly carried out mass murders. This one with nearly 50 casualties is the worst one thus far, targeting another minority, the gay community. And with no hesitation Muslims added their disgust and shared the helplessness they felt here, so they too participated in sharing the grief.
Basim Elkarra expressed their collective sentiments very well here while expressing his deep condolences as he said that his thoughts and prayers are with the LGBT community, and that we are all grieving. He said that there is a narrative out there that is trying to make this issue an Islamic-Terrorist Act on the LGBT community. “The reality is that this was a terrorist attack on ALL of us.” He added that that he just got back from Louisville, after attending the memorial of Muhammad Ali, one who embodied what it really means to be a Muslim and to be an American.
He said that there is no contradiction between the two as the memorial brought together people of all colors, faiths, sexual orientation and political persuasions. He added that it felt like a turning point for Islam in America. And then we were struck by this tragedy. Last week we lost a legend and this week we lost our loved ones, said Basim. This was violence against one of the most caring communities in our nation. He added that the LGBT community has long been an ally of the Muslim community in our fight against fear and hatred. After 9/11 the LGBT community was there with us in solidarity with us, he said. We (Muslims) condemn both Islamophobia and homophobia. It is time to stop the hate.
Senior Rabbi Mona Alfi of Sacramento’s oldest Jewish congregation the Congregation B’nai Israel spoke next. She said that the congregation was no stranger to hatred and bigotry as in June 1999 her synagogue was one out of three torched in the middle of the night by white-supremacists who hated us because we were Jews. And the two weeks later the same men murdered two innocents because they were gay. She said that at the time this community came together and that we are one family and humanity. “Today, I call on all of us to draw upon the power of love once again,” she added. She also asked for a moment of silence for our brothers and sisters who were murdered last night in Orlando.
Sacramento’s first openly gay City Councilmember Steve Hansen in his speech said that this is personal. Sacramento, is one of the most diverse communities in America, Latino, Gay, Straight, Woman, Muslims, Christians, Jews, we are always united. He said that the only answer (to this violence) is to be courageous and let everyone know that fear does not work. He said that he could only imagine the horror (in Orlando).
After Assembly member Kevin McCarty read a message of support from the Governor’s Office, Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg (joined by his wife Julie) started off by expressing his sorrow at the shooting death of a young man the day before, a Sacramento High football player who was going to be graduating soon (gun violence is everywhere). He also revisited the killing of gay couple in 1999 that Rabbi Mona had spoken of earlier and said that today we recoil in sadness at the fifty people who lost their lives in Orlando. He also said that we grieve for them and their families and pray for the recovery of those injured. “Today, we are all from Orlando, Florida,” said Steinberg.
He also spoke of the progress made in gaining rights for the LGBT community in the past few years, so that they can gather at places like Faces without fear. We must never retreat. In Sacramento and throughout our country, let us build bridges and not walls (a message for Donald Trump). He also asked everyone to take down the signs for his (successful) election recently and replace them with triple the number of signs that say “Pride Over Prejudice” which he also turned into a slogan here and repeated several times supported by the crowd.
In Conclusion it has to be mentioned that much of the goodwill generated for Muslims in America by the news coverage of the death of boxing great Muhammad Ali was countered shortly afterwards by this one insane individual. This Sacramento gathering expressed unity and sent deep condolences to the victims and their families. This act did not represent a religion or a community. It was a vile and murderous assault on ALL of us.