CAIRO – Angered by anti-Muslim rhetoric flared by politicians and presidential hopefuls, religious and social justice organizations in Evanston, Illinois, have launched a poster campaign to decry Muslim profiling and welcome refugees to their city.
“We want a visual reminder for everyone going through Evanston that Evanston is not a community that supports hate or religious bigotry,” Lesley Williams, an Evanston resident, told Chicago Tribune.
Williams, who organized a previous rally held in December against hateful rhetoric, warned that Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has continued to be the source of “a lot of hateful rhetoric” directed toward Muslims and undocumented immigrants.
“The continual onslaught is very intimidating to a lot of people of Muslim, Middle Eastern or Latin American backgrounds and contributes to this feeling that they don’t belong and are not a part of the American landscape,” said Williams, a member of Jewish Voices for Peace-Chicago — one of the groups that organized Sunday’s event.
“Donald Trump is reprehensible, but what’s more reprehensible is the millions of people following him,” the Rev. Michael Nabors told the crowd of roughly 100 people at the rally in Evanston’s Fountain Square.
Trump’s rhetoric has become a source of concern for American Muslims after a slur against African-Americans, a swastika, and a derogatory word for homosexuals were found painted inside the nondenominational Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University.
Lines were also spray-painted over pictures of Muslim students and the word “Trump” was painted in a stairwell, the attack in which two students were charged.
“These two young men put up these racial slurs against everyone and not just one community or another,” Tahera Ahmed, a chaplain at Northwestern University, said.
“We stand together for all of us, not just for one community.”
During a rally on Sunday, speakers applauded the March 11 cancellation of Trump’s rally at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion.
“We, as a city, Evanston, Chicago and the suburbs, when Donald Trump came to this town, we rose our voices and chased him away,” said Renner Larson, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago.
“But he still won in the Illinois (Republican) primary.”
Rabbi Michael Davis of Jewish Voice for Peace agreed, vowing to continue support for minorities.
“We see this as just the beginning, a continuation of a campaign,” said Rabbi Davis.
“That’s the vision — communities across Chicago and the U.S. will stand with Muslims and people of other faiths and take back the public square in the name of living in peace.”