Muslim lives matter vigil in Piccadilly Gardens

Greater Manchester Unite Against Fascism
Press Release - For Immediate Release

With photos from the vigil and links to photos By Barbara Cook  http://www.demotix.com/news/6885113/vigil-held-victims-chapel-hill-shooting-manchester#media-6884960

For further information contact Dr Rhetta Moran, Joint Secretary, Greater Manchester Unite Against Fascism on 07776264646, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

15th February 2015
Muslim Lives - Black Lives - All Lives Matter:  
Family of murdered young Muslims in North Carolina
thank the people of Manchester UK for their candlelit vigil

“Reached the families.  Well received and their friends and family thank the Community in Manchester.” Sufiya a young Manchester photographer woman at the vigil.

“I stopped to join in with the vigil when I saw it as I was coming home from work.  I’ve started to notice anti Muslim graffiti on my bus route, and I am seeing it on the street too.  I always challenge it, because all forms of racism are wrong, and the attacks on Muslims are racist.”  Nathan, mid 20s, from Manchester.

“Don’t White Lives matter too?” Manchester Teenage Man.  “Of course they do.  But we ain’t racist are we? We ain’t Muslim, but everyone has the right to have their beliefs, whatever their religion - or colour.” Manchester Teenage Woman.

“A positive sign - to see people from all faiths and no faith, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, political affiliations and so on, uniting under one banner...we need to become more proactive as opposed to reactive.”  Vigil Organiser, Sairah, mid 20’s, from Manchester

Last Thursday night (12th February) in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester, around 70 overwhelmingly young people responded to a local woman who used Facebook to organise a vigil in honour of three young Muslim students who had been shot in the head at point blank range in their home in North Carolina on Tuesday evening.   

“I felt compelled to call the vigil to illustrate that Muslim lives matter just like anybody else's.  The lack of media coverage prior to social media outrage was sickening, yet unsurprising.” Sairah explained.  

Addressing the crowd, before she invited a range of people to come to the microphone and speak for themselves, she explained “After a significant increase in Islamophobic rhetoric by both the establishment and media, it is not hard to root out the underlying reasons why such awful events may occur.  It is embarrassing and shameful that despite the ongoing proof that hate crimes transcend religion or ethnicity, just this morning the British government thought it appropriate to announce “royal assent” for the so-called Counter Terrorism and Security Bill.”

Sairah’s call for people “to become more proactive as opposed to reactive” was well received.  “We continue our lives thinking nothing will affect us, then we come to know of things such as what happened with Deah, Yusor, Razan and Mustafa and we are shocked. We have become, to some extent, successfully desensitized from the pain and destruction our brothers and sisters in the Global South are suffering...now it is coming home. We are incredibly privileged and we need to start taking account of it by supporting the rights of others.”

On 30th November last year, another spontaneous gathering of overwhelmingly young Manchester people marched - to the same spot - in solidarity with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri who, under the banner, Black Lives Matter, remembered Michael Brown, the 18-year-old black man, who was fatally shot by an American police officer.  

Last Thursday night, as they were walking to the vigil in Piccadilly Gardens, Unite Against Fascism saw about 100 people gathered with a spattering of “Je Suis Charlie” placards in Albert Square, outside Manchester Town Hall.  The group was surrounded by a private security firm and some police officers.  When asked why people were gathered a steward explained “This has been called by the Jewish Community of Manchester”.  When asked who that was, they admitted “Well, it’s the North West Friends of Israel who are behind it.”

Concluding the multipath vigil for the Young American Muslims, Sairah called for “continuing this momentum to ensure we build a strong and sustainable movement to overcome these dark times. That is what Deah, Yusor, Razan and Mustafa did, and that is what we should do.”

At the vigil,Unite Against Fascism announced the Stand Up to Racism Rally - everyone welcome - on 25th February at 6.30pm at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester and the National Stand Up to Racism demonstration in Central London on 21st March.

This is Multicultural Manchester.

ENDS

Barbara Cook pictures at:  http://www.demotix.com/photo/6385497/solidarity-ferguson-rally-and-march-manchester (Ferguson solidarity rally last November)
Pictures from Thursday night rally attached