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#IAmAMuslimToo rally in New York sees thousands protest against Trump ban

Linda Sarsour tells crowds: 'We won’t let horrific things happen to our brothers and sisters'
A young protestor at the #IAmAMuslimToo rally on 19 February, 2017 in New York City (AFP)

Thousands of New Yorkers crammed city streets on Sunday to participate in the #IAmAMuslimToo rally and protest the actions of the Donald Trump administration.

Co-organised by hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, rabbi Marc Schneier and imam Shamsi Ali, the event, which stretched back multiple city blocks, saw a range of speakers who declared, amid the unseasonable February sunshine: “Today, I am a Muslim too.”

After only a month into his presidency, Trump’s executive order banning travel to the US of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries has been met with popular, political and judicial opposition.

Although the actual order does not include the specific phrase "Muslim Ban", on the campaign trail Trump spoke often about banning the entry of Muslims to America.

'Attack on one faith is an attack on all'

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour noted the historical significance of 19 February: it was on that day, 75 years ago in 1942, that President Theodore Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, beginning the process of interning more than 120,000 Japanese-Americans.

“We won’t let horrific things happen to our brothers and sisters,” said Sansour. “Not on my watch, not on your watch, not on our watch.”

New York mayor Bill De Blasio garnered widespread applause as he praised the right to freedom of assembly, then used rhetoric in direct opposition to that of the Trump administration.

“An attack on anybody’s faith is an attack on all people’s faith,” he told the crowd. “It’s clear that we have the power. We the people have the final say in achieving fairness and justice for all.”

Representatives from just about every faith group were present. A Buddhist monk shared the stage with a Muslim sheikh. Christian ministers spoke, to be followed by a female rabbi. Individuals delivered speeches on behalf of New York’s African-American Muslim community. Latino Muslims made their presence felt too.

One of the most moving moments came when Pakistani-American Talat Hamdani told the crowds: “I am Muslim. My son was Muslim. On 9/11, he gave his life for his country as a first-responder NYPD officer to the attacks on the World Trade Center.”

She then read out the names of some of the Muslim victims of the 9/11 terror attacks and implored: “Do not let them do this. Not in their names! Not in their names!”

Placards raise laughs

But there were also moments of levity. Hosts Dean Obeidallah and Judy Gold, Muslim and Jewish respectively, injected energy into the day, poking fun at similar stereotypes about their faiths and reminiscing about the Obama administration.

“Man! I wish the expression: ‘Once you go black, you don’t go back’ applied to presidents,” Obeidallah told the crowd.

The crowds also made their own satirical observations, carrying smart placards that were called out by the speakers.

Obeidallah pointed to a sign that read: “'Humanistic Jews’ and asked: “What does that mean?” Gold responded: “Well, I’m a human and I’m a Jew. It’s amazing.”

At the end, organiser Russell Simmons took to Twitter, praising the turnout:

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