The forum was called after attacks on the group’s mosque and community center in Redmond Nov. 21 and Dec. 16. Attackers took a sledgehammer the first time and an axe the second to destroy the sign outside the center.
Speaking at the forum were Afzali, executive director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network; Jorge Quiroga of El Comite, the central immigrant rights group in Seattle; and Mary Martin, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of Seattle.
The Muslim Association of Puget Sound serves some 5,000 families and is the largest Muslim center in the Pacific Northwest, Afzali said. She described the center’s community outreach activities, including to youth and programs to feed homeless people. She said they are working with police to catch a person filmed on security cameras at the mosque on the night of the second attack.
The mosque sponsored an open house after the first attack, Afzali said. Several hundred people came from all around the area, including from churches, synagogues, political organizations and community groups.
“Donald Trump has declared his opposition to women, to Muslims, to Mexicans, to everybody,” Quiroga said. “This is why it is important to speak out today.”
He said El Comite and other groups will hold a march Jan. 20 — Trump’s Inauguration Day — with demands that include Stop the Deportations and Defend DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). He invited people to come.
“The SWP defends the right to worship for people of all religions — Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, everyone,” Martin said. “The labor-movement principle ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ should be the watchword here, and all working people and our unions should join in speaking out against these attacks.”
Martin said that she worked side by side with workers who are Muslim in many factories, from garment shops to meatpacking plants to Walmart. Muslims are part of the working class in this country, she said, and have joined in protests against the bosses and their attacks on workers’ rights.
“My campaign calls for the arrest, prosecution and jailing of those who carried out these attacks,” she said.
“The U.S. government and other imperialist regimes take advantage of the fear and revulsion among working people at terror attacks carried out by anti-working-class, reactionary groups such as Islamic State,” Martin said, “to scapegoat all Muslims and go after the democratic rights of working people.”
Martin said the French government used pro-IS murderous terror attacks there to declare a state of emergency and to slash workers’ rights. French unionists are prevented from organizing street protests against boss attacks on their wages and working conditions.
“But I don’t think the attacks on working people today come from Trump’s election,” she said. “Under the Obama administration last year we saw the biggest number of attacks on Muslim people in decades.
“The U.S. imperialist rulers — under Democratic and Republican administrations alike — bear responsibility for the consequences of 25 years of Washington’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and across the Middle East,” she said. “These wars have led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of workers and farmers and a refugee crisis like nothing we’ve seen since the end of the second imperialist world war.”
Martin also described how the rulers used their “war on terror” to frame up Somali youth in Minneapolis through FBI entrapment operations. Government agents and informers convince young Somalis to sign up for overseas terror groups or discuss organizing actions in the U.S., and then arrest them. Many have been convicted, and sentenced to long jail terms, she said, even though they never actually did anything.
Afzali thanked those at the forum who attended their open house, like Martin and other SWP members had. She invited forum-goers to visit the community center.
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