Resisting the divisive “ban” efforts also encouraged

OKLAHOMA CITY – A coalition of faith and minority groups gathered Friday afternoon on the south plaza of the State Capitol in a show of solidarity, standing against discriminatory policies aimed at Muslims and minorities by elements at the state and national levels of government.

Among the many signs in the crowd one in particular read: “We don’t agonize, we organize.”

There was faith in the crowd. Some hope, too. And lots of love.

Sponsored by Americans Against the Next War, The Peace House, CAIR Oklahoma, Islamic Society of Greater OKC, West Wind UU Church, Social Justice Committee at 1st Unitarian Church of OKC, and KVOY “Radio Free Oklahoma” 104.5 FM, speakers included Muslim Imam Imad Enchassi, who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and has ties to other parts of the Middle East.

Pointing to the State Capitol building behind him, Enchassi noted that he has been called a “terrorist” by people in that building and turned the term around on them embracing it, in that he is a terrorist since he stands with Black Lives Matter, with Native Americans and the Standing Rock protesters and for standing up for Latino/Hispanic rights.


Imam Imad Enchassi. (Edgar Lance / Red Dirt Report)

Enchassi also brought up his love of the 1986 animated immigrant film An American Tail, about a family of Russian-Jewish mice who emigrate to America in 1885 – a year before the Statue of Liberty is completed – and the advenutres of Fievel, the young mouse who is separated from his family and has wild adventures. He also expressed his love of the Peter Cetera song “Glory of Love,” also released in 1986, and the line “I am a man who will fight for your honor … we did it all for the glory of love.” Enchassi indicated that like Cetera, he will fight for your honor as well.

Rabbi Vered Harris of Temple B’nai Israel shared her thoughts on the many centuries – going back to the Old Testament days – that the Jewish people have been driven out of various lands and how Judaic teachings call for their people to respect the dignity and humanity of people “created in God’s image.”

Rabbi Vered Harris. (Edgar Lance/ Red Dirt Report)

“Love is treating other people with justice and mercy,” added Harris.

And representing the Christian perspective at Friday’s rally was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, pastor at East Sixth Street Christian Church, who also echoed the theme of love by calling for a “coming together” of all humanity, a “non-violent army of love.”

Jackson noted how minorities, women and people of non-Christian faiths have been maligned both locally and on the national level, noting the toxic, anti-immigrant atmosphere in America at this time in history.


The Rev. Jesse Jackson. (Edgar Lance / Red Dirt Report)

“Now is the time, here is the place and we are the people,” Jackson said to cheers. “We will be heard.”

A representative from the Latino Community Development Agency, Michael Brooks-Jimenez, an attorney who unsuccessfully ran against reactionary Republican Ralph Shortey in 2014, spoke for the Latino/Hispanic community in Oklahoma City saying that Trump’s attacks on immigrants are already being felt locally, as he has visited the local jail, trying to help immigrants who risk immediate deportation.


Michael Brooks-Jimenez. (Edgar Lance / Red Dirt Report)

“Our country is really at a crossroads,” Brooks-Jimenez said. “Do we continue to live in fear or do we live confidently as we have for the past 200 years?”

Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma City chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations recalled the death threats he and his organization have received in this post-9/11 world. And while the hateful rhetoric from President Trump and State Rep. John Bennett and their sycophants is hard enough, Soltani said the hardest part was being told to “go home.”

(Edgar Lance / Red Dirt Report)

“To be told to go home is to be told you don’t belong,” he said. “To be told you’re not part of the American fabric hurts.”

Concluded Soltani: “Let’s not only continue to exist together, but let’s resist.”