Dozens lined up for prayer Friday at New York City’s Foley Square in a peaceful protest against President Donald Trump’s executive actions that target refugees and undocumented immigrants.
The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) organized the protest that saw Muslims, as well as those of other faiths and even some with no religious affiliation gather for an Islamic traditional Friday prayer service, standing together as each group prayed in a manner it found most suitable.
“No matter what happens moving forward we got each other’s backs,” said Murad Awawdeh, NYIC director of political engagement. “They came for immigrants on Wednesday, they are coming today for us Muslims, and they are coming for everyone else tomorrow,” he said in reference to the executive orders.
Mark Hetfield, CEO of the non-profit pro-immigration group HIAS, said Trump’s actions fly in the face of the international community’s efforts after the Holocaust to “make sure that never again would refugees be turned back to their persecutor”.
The irony of the day was not lost on Hetfield. “President Trump is undoing that today on International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said.
“Why is he doing this? The pretext is security, but the real reason is Islamophobia, the ugly cousin of anti-Semitism, the ugly cousin of racism, the ugly cousin of every form of hatred,” Hetfield added.
Also delivering remarks, Rev. Chloe Breyer, an Episcopal priest in the New York diocese said: “We are the country, God willing, where you can bring your faith into the public square no matter who you are, as long as you share it with others. Bless you and your prayer and it is an honor to be with you today.”
Imam Khalid Latif, who is the chaplain of New York University and New York Police Department, told Anadolu Agency the Trump administration’s four-year term would present an “opportunity for us to decide what side of this line we want to stand upon.
“It’s a time we have to meet this hatred with real love, we have to meet this selfishness with real selflessness, and allow for those values to not just be things that we speak about but things that we are moved by and we act upon,” Latif said.
Chanting “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here”, protesters formed a human wall in front of 26 Federal Plaza that houses the local offices of the Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Trump signed an executive action Wednesday to deport undocumented immigrants involved in criminal activity, and another Friday that limits the flow of refugees into the U.S. as a measure against what he called “radical Islamic terrorists”.