Taking It To the Streets to Restore Hope and Express Solidarity With Each Other
In the face of escalating sectarian violence around the world and increasing expressions of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry across the U.S., 14 Muslims and Jews rode together around the DC region on Thursday, November 5 to spread the word: We Refuse to Be Enemies.
In the process of visiting two mosques, a synagogue, the University of Maryland and interacting with members of the public in a public park and a Metro stop in Downtown Washington, the impassioned Spread Hummus, Not Hate riders, all of them members of the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum, succeeded in exciting many people they met along the way with a sense of hope that despite the bleak headlines of recent months , Muslims, Jews and people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds can find a way to live together in peace and harmony.
Getting up on soapboxes to sing peace songs, hip-hop riffs and shout slogans like “Muslims and Jews Are Brothers and Sisters”, “Stand Up for The Other” and “We Are Family, the riders; members of the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum (GWMJF) transmitted warm, fun and loving vibe that contained an empowering message “There is hope for a peaceful and vibrant future if Muslims, Jews and people of all backgrounds come together and reach out to each other.!”
At all of their stops, the SHNH riders encouraged people they encountered along the way them to sign a ‘Stand Up for the Other’ pledge to confront bigotry wherever they hear it. They also urged Washingtonians to tweet presidential candidates and prominent public figures asking them not to use hateful language against members of any religious or ethnic community.
The pledge, written by SHNH rider Dr. Ali Chaudry of Basking Ridge, NJ, states, ““While interacting with members of my own faith or ethnic community, or with others, if I hear hateful comments from anyone about members of any other community, I pledge to stand up for the other and challenge bigotry in any form.”
Welcoming to SHNH participants to the University of Maryland, Communications Prof. Sahar Khamis got up a a soapbox to declare, “The SHNH message of love and unity of spirit is so inspiring to all of our students here—Muslims, Jews and others. What we need to do to break misconceptions about each other is to break bread—and share hummus—together. This is a wonderful alternative to the hate and fear-mongering that is so prevalent these days.”
Rabbi Aaron Alexander of Adas Israel Congregation invited the entire SHNH contingent to stand with him on the bimah and told them, “This profoundly hopeful event is creating a paradigm that love exists. Lately there has been a bleak feeling out there that it’s too late, but at this moment you are inspiring us to shout out; ‘Its never too late.’ Let’s embrace each other and spread the hummus.”
At Farragut Park and the Foggy Bottom Metro stops, large numbers of people turned out to welcome the SHNH caravan, many of them having come down after hearing reports on the event from WTOP news radio. They applauded vigorously as SHNH participant Nadia Hassan performed a rap song that she had created especially for the event. The whole event had a fun, high energy feel that brought people to sing, dance and embrace each other.
After the conclusion of SHNH, Nadia Hassan wrote to her fellow riders, “The joy of SHNH event is still lingering and I am at a loss of words to express the love, brotherhood and sisterhood I felt and shared with all of you.”
The SHNH riders, including Nadia, FFEU Muslim-Jewish Program Director Walter Ruby, Catherine Orsborn, executive director of Shoulder to Shoulder, Symi Rom-Rymer, Bahijah Salaam, Ira Weiss, Dr. Ali Chaudry, Dan Spiro, Mona Negm, Andra Baylus, Parvez Khan, Rabbi Batya Steinlauf and other members of the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum are now focused on their next big challenge; fine-tuning GWMJF’s upcoming Summit of Washington Area Imams and Rabbis on November 22, and thinking together about how to carry forward their mission to Spread Hummus Not Hate to venues far beyond Washington so as to spread the empowering message of ‘Muslims and Jews Refuse to Be Enemies.’
Relive the bus tour with this video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kBd9LyHeSA