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Ahmed Rehab: Passion and Peril at a Pro-Christian Rally

Muslims in Chicago joined their Christian brethren in condemning and opposing the slaughter of Christians in Iraq. (hat tip: Robert Spencer)

Beyond the Comfort Zone: Passion and Peril at a Pro-Christian Rally

(ahmedrehab.com/blog)

by Ahmed Rehab

Yesterday, CAIR-Chicago staff and interns participated in a rally alongside the Assyrian community of Chicago to condemn violence against Iraqi Christians. The rally was organized in response to the massacre of dozens of Assyrian Christians in Baghdad on October 31st.

It was a tricky decision for us. We knew that there could be anti-Muslim sentiment at the rally that would put is in a precarious position, but we decided that our disdain for the heinous acts of Al Qaeda far exceeded our concern for personal inconvenience.

We decided that the right thing for us to do was to act on our values and our sincere feelings of camaraderie with our fellow human beings in times of anguish. We wanted to raise our voices as Muslims in support of the Assyrian community and against terrorists who purport to act in the name of our faith.

Al Qaeda does not have reverence for any innocent life, including those of Muslims. It is a fact that they have bombed many more Mosques in Iraq than churches.
While we were weary of the possibility that some people at the rally could lash out at us, Muslims-at-large who condemn terrorism, we were not interested in seeing ourselves as victims. The only victims we were prepared to recognize were the 52 innocent souls that were claimed by the recent church bombing, and the many others – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and otherwise – claimed by terrorism.

And so we set out with signs including “An Attack on Your Church is an Attack on my Mosque,” “American Muslims, Iraqi Christians, One Blood,” “My Brother is an Assyrian,” “We Stand with Iraqi Christians,” and “Muslims for Peace.”

We held our signs up high and marched in solidarity with the predominantly Assyrian Christian crowd.

The reaction we got was mixed.

In an interesting scene that summed up my experience, I was asked by one man if I was a Muslim. I said “Yes, I am.” He then asked, “Am I impure?”

I joked, “I don’t know did you shower this morning?”

He dismissed the joke and asked me if I thought “his blood was impure.” I told him, “why would you expect that, you’ve never met me, I am here supporting you, what about me leads you to ask me such a question?” He told me, “You said you are a Muslim.” I told him, “so what?” He said that Muslims believe this sort of thing. I told him that he had been grossly misinformed, “you’re blood like all innocent blood is holy to me.”

Another man interjected and started yelling that I was “unwanted” there, motioning with his arms for me to leave. As he continued to yell at me, my attention was drawn to something that touched me. A young woman a few yards away leaned down on a stroller she was pushing and started to sob uncontrollably.

At first, I thought it had nothing to do with us but my intuition told me otherwise. I asked here, “what’s wrong, why are you crying?”

She said unable to hold back her tears, “I am so sorry you and your friends have to deal with idiots like that, this man does not represent us, I am so embarrassed. This is so wrong.”

Here I was standing before a stark display of contrasts, extreme animosity on one end and extreme compassion on the other.

In a single powerful moment, I was reminded yet again at the absurdity of those who generalize about any one group of people. Here were two people of the same religion, color, and ethnic background standing side by side rallying for the same cause — and yet they could not be any more different.

I hugged her and tried to comfort her, “Trust me, I know, we have our share of idiots too, everyone has them, most people here have been kind.”

And it was true. Many in the crowd were genuinely happy – almost relieved – to see Muslims standing with them at this rally. Some smiled, some nodded, others simply said “thank you!” It reinforced my feeling that our participation was extremely important.

While there were other incidents – one lady held a cross up to my face and told me I was a “bad Muslim” for condemning terrorism which is “in my Quran”, two people told us that we are going to hell for not accepting Jesus as our Saviour, some guy yelled profanities and was held back by a girl half his size, another called for reciprocal violence – in every single instance, someone else would take a strong stance, telling the others to back off and apologizing.

As we made our way back to the office, we were chased by two girls. “Can I ask you a question?” one of them said. “Can I just give each of you guys a hug?”

We met back in the office for an evaluation.

I learned that my colleagues’ experience mostly mirrored mine.

Despite the bigotry of some, we all felt strong solidarity with most people. We felt as if the Assyrian community, with its good and bad, was our own.

It is of no surprise to any of us that there are some negative feelings among some Arab and Assyrian Christian communities regarding Islam and Muslims. Part of it is understandable to us, given the ugly acts by saboteurs claiming to act in the name of Islam. Part of it is due to the opportunistic work of preachers like father Zakaria Boutros who make a living out of telling Arabic-speaking Christians that Islam is an evil religion. Part of it still is due to the lack of dialogue and engagement between our faith communities, and that was the part we resolved to try to change.

Assyrians have a long and proud history that goes back to one of the earliest civilizations in the world. They live as a religious minority in their indigenous homeland. For centuries, they have coexisted peacefully with their Muslim neighbors. But at other times, especially now, the instability and violence is leaving them feeling frightened for their loved ones and overall vulnerable. Some of them blame Al Qaeda, others demonize all Muslims, and others still blame the United States and its wars.

One thing we must never allow is for the bad amongst us – terrorists, extremists, ideologues of exclusion and hate – to succeed in turning the rest of us against each other. We must condemn them, ostracize them, and disempower them. The way to do that is to strengthen our relations, and stand with one another. That is the only way to spell defeat for the agents of hate.

We must emerge from our comfort zones and stand together as one against all forms of violence, ignorance, and intolerance.

When Christians are attacked, they should NOT have to rally alone. We must rally along with them. When Jews are attacked, they should NOT have to rally alone. When Muslims are attacked, we should NOT have to rally alone.

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  • SamMidani

    Thank you Ahmed Rehab for the leadership and thank yoy loonwatch for posting inspirational stories

  • Khushboo

    I’m so touched by this article! Thank you for posting this! May more of us Muslims join in on rallies against violence no matter what religion. Let us show that we are against all types of terrorists! Let us be brave enough to stand with the Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists, etc. against violence of any kind! Peace!

  • Nur Alia

    Iam happy that you all took a stance and decided to protest againt evil.

    I think it goes to show you. The people who were there for the same cause as you, welcomed your support.

    However, we must understand too, that those who told you ‘you are unwanted’ or ‘that you will go to hell for not beliving thier religious posistion’ were not there for the intention of protesting against the violence.

    As usual, haters, pundits, bigots and radical religious belivers come to hide the evil in thier own hearts by disquising it, and blending in with the good hearted. They are trying to rationalize how they can be good, when they know what they are doing, or beliving is a lie.

    Some come for an excuse for making poor decisions in thier lives, and want to blame someone else.

    Of course as well, some come because they can make industry of hate. The come to sell thier wares, get camera time, and gain fame for thier otherwise miserable lives.

    I think…from a safe distance, I see that the only thing wrong about America, is the wrong people are controlling the conversation.

    I think LoonWatch is exposing those people.

  • Abz2000.com

    Maybe we should look at facts instead of trying to shrink from controversy, if you YouTube terrorstorm and scroll to 55:22 you will find that David shyler, the former mi5 agent has testified that mi5 tried to use alqaeda and fund them in an assassination attempt on gaddafi, that’s not “theory” mate, that’s facts

  • When Christians are attacked, they should NOT have to rally alone. We must rally along with them. When Jews are attacked, they should NOT have to rally alone. When Muslims are attacked, we should NOT have to rally alone.

    Great Quote, May Allah Guide Us all towards peace

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  • Syed

    Syed said, “Would like to hear that story too ”

    Well nevermind – just checked out the JW article by Spencer 😉

  • Syed

    BMD asked, “By the way, how did Robert Spencer alert you?”

    Would like to hear that story too … 😉

  • Beautiful Muslim Doll

    Good for Rehab. I’m glad that the threat of anti Muslim feeling at the rally did not stop CAIR Chicago from holding this rally.

    It’s awful. I wish more could be done for Iraqi Christians, but the truth is the country is in turmoil. It’s appalling that they are being singled out like this. or even blamed.

    I do hope Iraqi authorities do something, or at least people help them. This is really troubling.

    By the way, how did Robert Spencer alert you? I could hardly believe my eyes when i saw him hat tipped?

  • Mike

    Thats right, we are holding it down in Chicago…. Im was upset I wasnt able to make it out. What an interesting experience tehy had. Keep up the good work peeps..
    mike
    wheres JB and his master of taqiyya claims.. in 5.4.3.2.1. HERES BOB!!!

  • Muhannad

    Excellent action and touching reflection. Thanks Mr. Rehab. And thanks Mr.Spencer for alerting us to this story. You are good for something after all.

  • abz and Mindy, I don’t want this to descend into conspiracy debate, lets stick to the message of this piece which is to condemn AlQaeda and its atrocious actions against Christians in Baghdad.

    abz, I see no value in trying to say the CIA is behind AlQaeda, I also don’t think it is true. During the Afghan-Russian war, no doubt the CIA funded Mujahideen groups and probably lent support to Bin Laden and cohorts, but to say that AlQaeda is bankrolled by the CIA at the moment is more than far fetched it is very wrong.

  • @mindy you clicked and you saw facts presented clearly, you couldn’t dispute them so you resorted to an old tactic called labelling and villification

  • mindy1

    @abz2000 I clicked and I saw paranoia

  • reply to mindy1: click on my name and click on the link: crimes against humanity, where you will see images of national security adviser bzignew brzezinski holding a gun with osama bin laden, whos family were building the u.s military bases in saudi arabia, also research the cold war and the exploitation of the afghan mujahideen and their transformation from freedom fighters to mercenaries,
    peace,
    abz

  • i meet a lot of christians and i talk about Islam, and when i have given Qurans and said things like: you hear a lot of propaganda about Islam, here’s the source”, i have even had them say: “oh my God, i’ve wanted to get my hands on one of these for a while now but i didn’t know who to ask” i get smiles and thanks, people are interested – especially because they know propaganda and vilification when they see it – and because they realise that Jesus is a revered Prophet in Islam.
    events like these unislamic acts only create divisions, ignorance of islam and blind enmity, i wonder who plans and carries out these attacks, remember the “christmas day bombing”? coincidence???
    try to rationalise it and think if this is the mindset of a group who claims to want to spread Islam throughout the world.
    i think the answer’s there

  • mindy1

    @abz2000 proof please

  • the Prophet pbuh strictly forbade the destruction of monasteries etc, yet you see these wierd events, most people with the zeal to fight for Islam would have the zeal to understand it – unless they had been wronged and acted out of anger – the first question a detective asks is – who benefits???
    and you will see that it is not the image of Islam.
    then you might want to find out who set up “al-qaeda”???
    and you find it was al CIAda

  • More of the same please! People complain we don’t protest about this enough, lets do it again and again!

  • Sir David ( Illuminati membership number 5:32) Warning Contains Irony

    And the bigots will still say muslims dont condem Al Q.
    Their are none so deaf as those who choose not to hear.
    Well played in Chicago

  • Watcher4

    It’s very saddening to hear about the plight of the Iraqi Christians. It’s good to see Muslims join in this rally.

  • samlebon

    You did the very right thing and acted in a very procative way.

  • Husayn

    As Ahmed said, this could have backfired spectacularly. Good on Ahmed and the others for expressing the condemnation of the murderers, and support for the Assyrian Christian community that ALL Muslims wish they could express so openly.

    It is essential that Muslims oppose evil in whichever way they can.

  • mindy1

    Sorry the bigots insulted you 🙁 that was wrong, but it’s good you went

  • jorrdie

    Bad news for the bigots

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