Community members, legislators and religious leaders of all backgrounds joined outside Legislative Hall in Dover to support Muslim-Americans.
Rally signs, American flags and red hijabs stood out against a cloudy afternoon in Dover, as more than 200 men, women and children of all backgrounds held hands, sang and cheered outside Legislative Hall.
United Muslim-Americans of Delaware organized the rally to spark unity, and to demonstrate support for its community. Imams, rabbis and reverends, Democratic and Republican legislators, as well as Gov. John Carney, D-Delaware, gave speeches during the event.
“We are here to stand in solidarity with our Muslim American brothers, and sisters and neighbors who bring so much to our state,” Carney said. “To show by our actions, not just our words, that we are one people in Delaware.”
Usman Sandhu, one of the founding members of United Muslim-Americans of Delaware and president of the Islamic Society of Central Delaware, said his organization held the event to spread love and unity.
“What (this political climate) did is bring the good and worst out of America, and what we see here is the good in America—the love, the Jewish, the Christians, the Muslims, all Americans,” he said. “You cannot say you’re a Muslim or an American. Were both. Were doctors, we’re policemen, we’re veterans, and we’re builders. We’re just as American as anything else—we’re the fabric of America.”
Although the rally was not a direct response, earlier this month two Republican senators received criticism after walking out of Senate chambers when two invited imams were asked to recite a portion of the Quran.
Sandhu said his delegation has since met with Lawson, and wants to continue dialogue about their common goals.
Attendant Aisha Akil said she was dismayed when she heard about the walkout, and hopes events like this one will help change perceptions.
“I’m hoping it will spur some education, and start to dispel some of the myths, open people’s eyes and allow people to say, ‘Here, maybe what we’re hearing isn’t true,’ maybe they won’t be so afraid meeting and being around Muslims, and start to build a more inclusive environment,” she said. “There’s only one God, and all the hate and rhetoric around it, it shouldn’t be like this.”