Resisting the Muslim Ban: A Rally in North Minneapolis

Staff Writer

Nicholas Johnson

The main assembly space of the Brian Coyle Community Center rumbled with hundreds of chattering voices. Suddenly, an African- American woman came up to the microphone and began to yell, her voice hoarse, “When I say black Muslims, you say matter!” The audience quickly and emotionally complied, echoing a variation of the oft-repeated slogan of racial justice. She continued, bellowing, “If they don’t get it,” to which an audience, seemingly familiar with the chant, responded, “Shut it down!” The woman finished, “If [minority groups] don’t get justice and freedom, are y’all ready to shut s*** down?!?!” To respond, the audience roared with approval.

Thus began Resisting the Muslim Ban, a public forum on Islamic relations under the new presidential administration. The community gathering was organized by Ilhan Omar, representative of Minnesota state district 60B, which includes the University of Minnesota, after the news of Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration broke. Though contrary to a message which seemed to underlay the event, the policy does not explicitly target people of Islamic faith, it would have a disparate impact on the Muslim community, given its bar on immigration from several Muslim majority countries; Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Speakers included representative Omar herself, CAIR Minneapolis president Jaylani Hussein, representatives of Minnesota’s NAACP chapter, a speaker from the Young Muslim Collective, and other community activists.

Many of those involved indicated concerns regarding the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s policy. The Constitution, though defending the individual right to worship as one chooses, does not make statements regarding immigration, other than to make such laws the prerogative of the federal government. Despite this, debates over the legality of this and other measures will continue.

Additionally, some speakers made overtures towards a bipartisan consensus, mentioning noted conservative figures who have come out against the new administration’s policy-specifically, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Dick Cheney. However, the overall message of the event did not seem to indicate that a moderate solution is on the political horizon. To demonstrate, one participant declared “niceness” the worst enemy of the movement, and that a commitment to order in place of justice must be removed to fight perceived racism.

One prominent ideological current persisted throughout the forum- That of identity politics. One speaker, for example, told white audience members (who made up most of the crowd) to, quote, “…put your privileged money, earned on the backs of black and brown lives, on the line for this resistance.” This elicited an enormous round of applause from the audience. The two hashtags which came from this gathering: #BlackMuslimsResist and #NoBanNoWall seemed to indicate that the outrage came not from the specific policies implemented in the past few days, but from a general perception of discriminatory ideology within the Trump administration.

Although the event’s speakers were polarizing, and the mood in the hall tense at best, there is some truth in the concerns presented. Though this immigration order is falsely labeled a Muslim ban, Trump has made motions, in no uncertain terms, towards pursuing a policy of temporarily banning Muslim immigration to the United States. Most would agree that this constitutes an unacceptable violation of American values. Without Trump’s supporters and opponents aiming for a broad political consensus to protect civil liberties, this sort of unrest will likely continue.