WISCONSIN – About 100 people rallied on February 15 in La Crosse, Wisconsin to denounce the Islamophobic attacks against Muslims in the state, Madison reported on February 19.
“This racist and Islamophobic incident did occur. We’ve to accept that because doing anything less would be minimizing the pain and seriousness of the incident,” said Wale Elegbede, one of the founding members of the La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network.
The event named ‘One Community One Family’ was focused on the theme ‘Hate Has No Business Here, at the Bullet Cab company’ in reference to a xenophobic graffiti that was spray-painted on the business’s garage along State Road which is owned by a Muslim citizen.
The rally was attended by members of ‘La Crosse Interfaith Shoulder to Shoulder Network’, ‘La Crosse Area Showing Up for Racial Justice’ and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Campus Climate.
The rally was also attended by the Assistant Police Chief Rob Abraham, members of La Crosse Fire and Police Departments, besides other local organizations, along with the owner of the company, Mian “Mike” Ahmad, and the general manager Linda Devenport.
Community Against Xenophobia
Interestingly, Abraham told the crowd his family came from Syria and settled in La Crosse.
“Back in the early 1900s, they faced some of those similar things, and there is no place for those type of words, those type of slurs, those type of hate-filled messages in our community,” Abraham said.
The city’s Mayor Tim Kabat has also rallied with the gathering and said: “I don’t think we can put it into words just how terrible and despicable that act was.”
The organizations’ spokespeople stood in front of the newly painted garage where two artists Cathryn Dagendesh and Adam Faeth created a mural to combat the racist graffiti.
Remarkably, the rally-goer Sofia Naqvi is the woman who alerted Devenport to the discriminatory graffiti. Naqvi, 26, is an American Muslim who moved to La Crosse about a year ago.
“I thought I had reached my racism quota for the week or the month. The Monday after the graffiti incident, I was directly subjected to racism while standing in line at the post office,” Naqvi informed.
According to the 2014 demographic estimates of the national census in Wisconsin, Muslims represented as few as 0.5% of the American state’s total population.
American Muslims see rising Islamophobia as a major obstacle to their daily life.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, said that anti-Muslim discrimination incidents and hate crimes increased in the third quarter of 2018 by 83 and 21 percent respectively, compared with the first quarter.
During 2018, CAIR documented more than 1,000 reports of potential bias incidents. The numbers include situations involving various government agencies.