Image Courtesy WikiPedia

As a grandchild of the holocaust, brought up on the horrible images and stories of that which we were told to never forget, one word came to mind this afternoon when my friend Samina Sundas called to tell me about armed protests planned against Muslims this coming weekend: Kristallnacht.

On November 9th and 10th 1938 in Germany and Austria a rampage of orchestrated anger against Jewish people resulted in 1,000 synagogues and 7,000 businesses, and thousands of hospitals, homes, and schoolsbeing destroyed by vicious mobs who also killed and maimed hundreds of Jews. The name, Kristallnacht (night or broken glass), came from the shards of glass littering the streets of Jewish communities. 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps in just a few days and, in the end, over 6 million Jewish people were slaughtered in the holocaust.

This weekend, on October 9th and 10th, an organization calling itself the Global Rally for Humanity is calling on ‘Fellow Patriots, Veterans, Bikers, Rednecks And Good Ol’ Boys’ to rally against Islam outside of Mosques and other Muslim organizations across the country. While neither I nor Muslim organizations around the country fear anything as horrible as Kristallnacht, I do feel a deep sense of responsibility to cry out against the seeds of hate that have been festering against my friends and neighbors, watered by anti-muslim groups with their voices amplified by talk-radio, candidates for president, and some of our elected officials.

While interfaith organizations, community leaders, and others should and will stand with our Muslim sisters and brothers this weekend where needed, this escalation in the campaign against Muslims calls for much more. As children are taught in schools today we all need to be upstanders instead of bystanders. If someone says something hateful against Muslims we need to stand up and say NO! we will not put up with hateful rhetoric against our friends and neighbors, not in our towns, not in our cities, not in the United States of America. Too many people stood silent in the face of anti-Semitic tirades that led to one of the greatest crimes in history.

Beyond saying no to hate we must also say yes to friendship. Organizations like CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) nationally and American Muslim Voice here in Northern California offer opportunities for people to break bread with their Muslim neighbors. Say yes the next time such an opportunity comes up. When someone says something in my presence about Muslims I feel much stronger when I am able to share stories about my friends and colleagues who are Muslim, dispelling the myths and downright lies with a good dose of reality. It is through such friends that I learned about one story of the Holocaust that too few people know about, the story of the Grand Mosque of Paris, one of the few places in France where Jews being hunted by the Nazis could find shelter. The Muslim leaders of that mosque not only sheltered Jews from persecution and death, they also helped downed American pilots, escaped prisoners of war, and resistance fighters.

Remembering that story and who WE ARE as Americans, I call on all fellow patriots, veterans, bikers, and good ol’ boys and girls to rally FOR their neighbors and against hate.

 

 


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