Saturday, February 27, 2021

Action Alert: Mumia Abu-Jamal has COVID

Mumia Abu-Jamal, like Imam Jamil Al-Amin, and many other of our beloved political prisoners, has been in ill health over an extended period, and his supporters have been calling for his release on humanitarian grounds for a long while. Now he has been diagnosed with COVID-19. This is an important opportunity for Muslims to show solidarity with the Black community.

--Nadrat Siddique

----------------------
From Political Prisoner News:

Mumia had COVID-19. He is medically vulnerable, and is experiencing shortness of breath and chest pains. We need everyone to call the Superintendent of Mumia's Prison and demand he be taken to the hospital for treatment for COVID-19. It is not okay that they merely test him (they had not as of Fri. night), the results will take days to come back and he is experiencing chest pains & breathing problems now--and COVID requires quick medical care to avoid death. 

Bernadette Mason, Superintendent
SCI Mahanoy
301 Morea Road
Frackville, PA 17932
(570) 773-2158

Friday, February 26, 2021

Muslim Leadership Silent as Dr. Aafia and Other Prisoners Bear the Brunt of Texas Winter Weather Emergency Without Heat and Running Water

By Nadrat Siddique

The recent unprecedented winter weather emergency in Texas was another prime opportunity for U.S.-based Muslim leadership to call for the release of political prisoner Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. As temperatures dipped into the teens and '20s, FMC Carswell, the prison where Dr. Aafia is being held, was without heat and running water for several days. Toilets were overflowing due to the lack of water, and the women prisoners put on multiple layers of clothing in an effort to stay warm.

You can read the full story on that horrific situation here:

https://theintercept.com/2021/02/20/reality-winner-prison-cold-texas-freezing/

As usual, Muslim organizations, busily genuflecting to Biden and his Hindu VP, dropped the ball, taking no action to press for Dr. Aafia's release from a freezing cold prison. While the immediate emergency appears over, it is a very sad commentary on our Muslim organizations and Muslim leadership that they did not raise a finger to help these women prisoners, including Aafia, and missed a huge opportunity to call for their release on humanitarian grounds. And so, we who believe in freedom must remain vigilant.

ACTION ALERT

What you can do to help Aafia now

1) Call or write to the prison

People of conscience, particularly those based in the U.S., should call or write the prison regularly to express concern about Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. This will keep the authorities on notice that people are vigilant and watching their actions, and that Aafia is not forgotten.

When writing, please be polite, courteous, and, if possible, specific (eg if a particular situation, eg the heat being out, has just occurred, mention that). Be sure to use the correct legal spelling of Aafia's name, and her register number. These are: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, #90279-054

Send your letter to:

Michael Carr, Warden
FMC Carswell
PO Box 27066
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Or use this form:
https://www.bop.gov/inmates/concerns.jsp


2) Write to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in prison
The worse thing for a political prisoner is the thought that they have been forgotten, or that no one knows where they are, or what is being done to them. A single letter from the outside can mitigate such feelings. Some prisoners mention reading and re-reading the letters they get many times over. Letters should not mention illegal or violent acts, and should be general expressions of concern.

Aafia Siddiqui, #90279-054
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

More than likely, your letter will be returned to you. (That is what happened to a number of Maryland-based Aafia supporters who wrote to her.) When the prison returns the letter, they frequently also (perhaps as a taunt), let the prisoner know they did so.

If your letter to Aafia is returned, it is important to call the prison to ask them why.

Phone for FMC Carswell is: (817) 782-4000
Hours (The prison administration only appears to accept calls during these hours, U.S. Central Standard Time):
Sat: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sun: 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Again, these are small ways of letting the authorities know the outside world is watching.


3) Send small amounts of money to Dr.Aafia's commissary

This will allow her to buy items not provided by the prison from the commissary (prison store). The prison system has very specific rules on how to send money to a prisoner:

• If you want to send her money by mail, it must be a money order (U.S. Postal money orders are best).

• You must write her full, legal name and register number on the money order itself.

• Then, address the envelope as follows:

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Aafia Siddiqui
#90279-054
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

• Then, write your name and return address on the upper left-hand corner of the envelope.

• If you prefer to send Dr. Aafia money electronically, you can do so using Western Union or Moneygram. Again, the prison system has very specific rules for doing this. Check them here, and follow the directions as precisely as you can (to avoid rejection of payment):

https://www.bop.gov/inmates/communications.jsp#money


4) Send Aafia a birthday card:

Aafia's birthday is March 2. She will spend it in a cold, filthy, COVID-ridden prison, while both U.S. and Pakistani lawmakers (including Pakistani PM Imran Khan, who came to power on campaign promises to free her) ignore the enormous injustice being done to her.

Send her a birthday card to let her know she is not forgotten. (A very simple card, with no frills or decorations, or a postcard with your handwritten birthday message is best.)

Send the card to:

Aafia Siddiqui, #90279-054
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127


5) Educate yourself about the case, and join any local actions, protests, etc calling for justice for Aafia. For regular updates on Dr. Aafia's case, follow her sister on Twitter: @FowziaSiddiqui


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Nadrat Siddique is a DC-based writer and political prisoner advocate, who believes that "None of us are free, if one of us is chained."

Friday, February 12, 2021

Standing Rock Solidarity Run

I ran the 10.6 miles of the BWI Trail on February 9. It's a trail I regularly run, but this run was special. This year marks the 5-year anniversary of the heroic stance taken by the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies to stop desecration of Indian land by Big Oil, in particular the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Despite having ZERO legal standing, DAPL continues to operate with impunity.

So, the Standing Rock Youth Council initiated a 93-mile relay to call attention to the illegalities being carried out by the oil company. Their statement on the action is here:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1309212789464007&id=263066114078685

My run was part of a national action held across the country. Runners in cities across the U.S. independently ran or walked anywhere from 1/4 mile to 8, 10, or 12 miles  in solidarity with the Standing Rock Youth Council action. The indigenous youth initiating the action ran in sub-zero temperatures in North Dakota that day. Among these brave, bold indigenous runners were those who had initiated the fight against the pipeline in 2016.

I wanted them to know they had (at least some) Pakistani/Muslim support.

You can see a clip from my run here:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2912525772405351&id=100009438707580

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Protests Continue Outside FMC-Carswell, but Where are the Muslims?

Petition Update
By Nadrat Siddique

September 19, 2020

Dear sisters, brothers, and friends,

As-salaam alaikom/ Greetings of peace! Conditions at FMC Carswell, where Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is being held, have gone from bad to worse. Since we initiated this petition, another two women, held with Aafia, have died from COVID-19, and more have tested positive. It is heartening than human rights-loving people, some of whom have relatives in the prison, are demonstrating outside the prison's walls.

Here is a media report on the protests from the local paper in the area (you may have to sign up for a free subscription to view the article in its entirety):

Protest calls for release of inmates at Fort Worth, TX prison | Fort Worth Star-Telegram
https://www.star-telegram.com/article244664882.html

Sadly, the current protests are being staged almost entirely by non-Muslims. Where are the Muslims?

According to the Texas State Historical Association, Texas has a Muslim population of 421,972. Granted, Texas is a huge state--as large as some countries--and many of these Muslims live a long distance from FMC Carswell (located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas). Even then, Dallas, according to the same sources, boasts a Muslim population of 30,000. Its sister city, Fort Worth, reports another 4,000. There are 15 Islamic Centers in Dallas. And our faith, the faith of 34,000 Dallas-Fort Worth area Muslims, commands us to engage in "amr bil mauroof" (enjoining the right) and "nahi unal munkari" (forbidding the wrong). In other words, standing for justice. The Sublime Qur'an describes "the freeing of the slave," ie, the prisoner, as the height of Islamic belief.

There is no more clear cut case of injustice than what has been done to our sister Aafia.

So where then, are all of these Texas-based Muslims and Muslim organizations? No doubt there are innumerable Muslims in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and elsewhere who would love to demonstrate outside FMC Carswell for Aafia. But, thanks to U.S. immigration law, they cannot easily do so. So, it is our responsibility, as U.S.-based Muslims, to speak up for our sister. If we are unable or unwilling to protest outside the prison, we should, at a minimum, sign the petition to U.S. authorities calling for her release on humanitarian grounds, and ask others to do the same. It doesn't cost anything, it's still legal to sign a petition, and it's our duty as Muslims/ people of conscience to help the downtrodden. JazaakAllah khair and thank you!

Link to the petition:

https://www.change.org/p/donald-j-trump-release-or-home-confinement-for-dr-aafia-siddiqui-from-coronavirus-infected-prison

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Petition for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

We, the undersigned, petition:

 

Donald J. Trump

Greg Abbott

Department of Justice

William Barr (Attorney General of the United States)

Eric S. Dreiband (Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights Division, DOJ)

Ken Paxton (Attorney General of Texas)

Michael Carvajal (Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons)

Kathleen Hawk Sawyer (Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons)

Release or Home Confinement for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui from Coronavirus-Infected Prison

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, is serving an 86-year term at FMC Carswell. Carswell is a prison-cum-medical facility for female prisoners. Other than Seagoville Prison, which is also located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has 1,359 cases, Carswell has the largest COVID-19 outbreak of any U.S. prison. According to Bureau of Prisons own website, the number of reported cases there is 542. (Other sources place it even higher, at 571.) Carswell’s inmate population totals 1,357. That makes the current infection rate at the facility 40%. Three female prisoners, Andrea Circle Bear, Sandra Kincaid, and Teresa Ely, have died from the virus at the facility. Of these dead women, Circle Bear, a 34-year old Native American, was much younger than Dr. Siddiqui. So, the risk to Dr. Siddiqui is clearly grave.

According to the Appeal, a project of the Justice Collaborative, "There's no air conditioning; incarcerated women are confined to their cells; the commissary is closed indefinitely, so women are running out of basic hygiene products like soap and shampoo; the warden was nowhere to be found; women weren't getting necessary medical care; inedible meals arrived in brown sacks." The facility is also sorely lacking in cleaning supplies and PPE.

(Much of the information on conditions at Carswell originates with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a local news outlet in the area, with no political agenda. The paper has been reporting on the situation there since April. The reports were later picked up by the local NBC affiliate, Time Magazine, and Newsweek.)

The bottom line is that Dr. Siddiqui, an MIT and Brandeis graduate, with no prior record of violence, and who was likely turned in by a vindicative, abusive ex-husband, has a greater than 40% chance of contracting Coronavirus while in U.S. custody. She is already in very poor physical, as well as mental health, having been denied timely medical treatment from a gunshot wound when she was captured in Afghanistan. The torture she endured while in captivity in Pakistan and Afghanistan exacerbated her physical condition. The death of her baby, Sulaiman, in the course of her arrest, and the imprisonment of her other two children, Ahmad and Mariam, along with her (they were each separately released years later), added to her grave mental trauma. 

Not one person was killed or injured in connection with the charges for which Dr. Siddiqui was convicted. And she was convicted in New York District Court, on the basis of ambiguous and highly contradictory testimony, due largely to the climate of fear and Islamophobia which existed at the time. Upon her conviction, she called for her supporters to stay calm, and to refrain from violence. She has continued to maintain her innocence throughout her 17-years of captivity.

Her sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, a Pakistan-based physician who holds a degree from Harvard University, has long spearheaded a national campaign in Pakistan, calling for her release. In Pakistan, the broad masses of people believe Dr. Siddiqui to be innocent, and the prevailing view is one of disbelief that the U.S., which touts itself as a supporter of women's rights, has accorded torture, solitary confinement, and now (the prospect of) COVID-19 to this Pakistani woman neuroscientist.

Supporters from the Aafia Foundation and other groups hold annual rallies outside FMC Carswell calling for her release. Human rights advocates in London, Durban, New York, Boston, and other cities worldwide regularly march calling for Dr. Siddiqui's release.

Countries like China and Russia are often associated with the jailing of scientists. The U.S. need not join their ranks. Dr. Siddiqui's release on humanitarian grounds from a COVID-infected prison would open the door to improved U.S.-Pakistan relations.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, is neither a threat to public welfare, nor a flight risk. She has suffered enough. We ask that she be released to home confinement with supporters in Maryland; or, that she be repatriated to Pakistan, where her elderly mother and her children have long awaited her. As COVID-19 ravages Texas prisons, particularly Carswell, Dr. Siddiqui’s life may depend upon it.

Sign the petition here:

http://chng.it/7R4kRhXNsw

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Weekend Killing Spree in Chicago: Fruit of a Genocidal Plan

Father's Day weekend brought tragedy to Chicago. One hundred four (104) people, including five children were shot. In response, many Muslim commentators took to social media, and imams to the pulpit to denounce the violence. "Stop killing each other!" was the most common admonishment. In my opinion, such statements reveal both lack of social consciousness, and a lack of awareness of U.S. history, and of the workings of the Prison Industry.

To me, the surge in killings seem the inevitable result of the CIA's dumping of guns and drugs into the Black community. Although I don't have proof, I think it's entirely possible, following the observed patterns under which COINTELPRO has operated in the past, that some or all of the killings are being instigated by the authorities, and/or the right wing, with the collusion of the authorities. When the right conditions are set up by the enemy, a segment of the population will engage in such behavior. What is telling is how and whether these murders are solved. In Baltimore, for example, spates of killings of Blacks (ostensibly Black on Black) occur. Are these murders solved? Rarely.

Why do they remain unsolved? Just as it is the job of the police to protect and serve the public, it is their job (along with that of the DA) to solve such crimes, and prosecute the killers. When it comes to the Black community, they clearly abdicate their responsibility in the former function (ie protecting and serving). However, we are naive enough to believe they fulfill the latter when it comes to the Black community (ie solving crimes and prosecuting the perpetrators).

If even one little White girl is kidnapped or killed, massive resources are expended to resolve the case. Not so in the case of Black children who are murdered. To have so many unsolved murders is highly suspicious and problematic. Black activists have even propounded the idea that some or all of these killings are committed, or at least instigated by police. I don't think it is overly far-fetched.

The prevailing White Supremacist line since the police murder of George Floyd and the subsequent tidal wave of righteous anger and protest seems to be: "Well, what about when they kill each other? Do Black lives matter then?" The intonation is that cops kill relatively few Blacks, and that Blacks are mindless and savage enough to engage in the senseless murder of their own. It seems an attempt to minimize, or even justify police killings. After all the sensationalizing of the "weekend of senseless killings" in Chicago, hopefully attention will remain on how--and how many of these murders were solved. If not, we should be demanding why.

--Nadrat Siddique

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Socio-Economics of Eid Sweets

Earlier, I stopped by Indus Food (Burtonsville location). It is my preferred spot for halal meat, spices, and naan. But today, I was there for mithai. (These are a class of very sweet Pakistani sweets. Their appearance, in many cases, is very similar to American fudge. However, the preparation is quite dissimilar, as mithai employs little to no butter, and is instead composed primarily of milk and sugar, with nuts and other ingredients added for flavor.)

There were few people in Indus Food, not nearly as many as I've seen there in previous years, so close to the Eid. Instead of the older "uncle" who frequently attends to the cash register, it was a young Muslim man. Similarly, Muslim youth were filling other positions in the store. Our faith teaches us to protect our elders, and I was glad to see this in action. But- there was NO fresh mithai!

I was looking specifically for Habshi Halwa, (these are chestnut brown-colored rectangles) and Kalakan (milky white rectangles, which especially look like fudge) for the Eid. But, aside from a big, open tray of gulab jaman and another of rasgolay, there was zero fresh mithai. Those two, and a frozen mithai sampler was all that was in the offing! And, as any authentic Pakistani knows, mithai doesn't freeze well.

Then it occurred to me that the dearth of Pakistani sweets was likely because the majority of it comes from Shaheen Sweets in New York. I truly pray for the poor and working class people in New York, including those associated with the manufacture of Pakistani sweets, that they may survive the pandemic. As we know, poverty accelerates Coronavirus, if for no other reason that underpaid workers are forced to live in close quarters, with large families sharing small facilities, and scarce time/space to maintain hygiene.

May Allah make it easier for all those compelled to work under difficult and dangerous conditions, and may He ease the burden of those struggling with limited/no income in these trying times.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Jamaat Al-Muslimeen Statement on the Death of Ahmaud Arbery

It is disgusting, and a travesty of justice that an innocent black jogger can be shot like an animal by White vigilantes, who chase him down without any provocation. We, of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen (Islamic Peoples' Movement) demand justice in this evident murder.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Thoughts on the Death of a Dear Friend/Co-Worker

This morning, I attended the funeral of a longtime co-worker and friend, Crystal Pierce. The Grace of God Ministries, the small church where it was held, sits on Baltimore's Millington Avenue (about 2.5 miles from where Freddie Gray was killed by police in 2015). It was filled to capacity.


Crystal was young, only a year older than me, but she had Stage 4 lung cancer. She would always see me running during my break at work, and encouraged me daily. "Damn, girl, you be tearing up that road," she'd say. And, "As much as you run, you do all the running for both of us!"

I gently encouraged her to take grape seed extract and resveratrol, both highly effective holistic treatments for lung damage due to smoking. "Hang up the cancer sticks, and come running with me," I would tell her. "I know you can do it; you have that natural athletic build!"

And I meant it. Crystal had played basketball in school, and retained her trim athletic body almost until the end. But, she never obliged me on the running.

She was feisty and didn't mince words, excellent traits for the shop steward she was at our work place. But, she was also very kind, caring, and helpful to anyone in her circle who needed it. When various co-workers were suspended or fired through no fault of their own, she would make sure they were okay, taking up collections for them, and reminding others to check on them.

At one point, I was in the process of leaving an abusive marriage, and my ex- was stalking me, even coming to my job, threatening to smash my car windshield. Crystal was very supportive, saying she would beat him up for me, if necessary, and offering to walk me to my car at the end of my work shift. (I was fearful of being intercepted on the way to my car for many weeks in the course of that breakup.) Thankfully I never had to take her up on her offer. But, when one is enduring such a trial, it is comforting to know you have a friend like Crystal looking out. I only wish I could have been there for her in her health challenges.

May you rest in peace, dear friend.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Bringing Aafia to the Women’s March

By Nadrat Siddique

January 18, 2020
Washington, DC

I attended the Women’s March today. The mass action originated in 2017 with Donald Trump’s election, and was in its fourth year. Although I live in the DC area, and as my friends and family know, I rarely say “no” to a protest or rally for justice, it was my first time participating.

I was not convinced, by any means, of either the agenda or the modus operandi of the very White, very liberal feminist organizers. My primary objective in participating was to keep the name of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in the public eye. The Pakistani neuroscientist-turned political prisoner was now in her 14th year of imprisonment for a crime she clearly could not have committed, and after a few murmurings from the government of Pakistani President Imran Khan about “bringing our sister home” (the suggestion was to repatriate Aafia as part of a negotiation between Pakistan and the U.S.), she seemed once again forgotten by those in the seats of power on both sides of the Atlantic.

But, it was not just about Aafia. To me, Aafia is symbolic of the many Muslim women prisoners who are abused, neglected, forcibly de-hijabed, raped, tortured, shackled, or separated from their children—all away from public scrutiny. Such treatment is commonplace not only in prisons on the mainland U.S., but also in U.S. “Black sites,” in Israeli prisons (whose interrogators and security personnel are frequently U.S.-trained), and in the prisons of U.S.-sponsored or supported dictators like Salman bin Abulaziz (Saudi Arabia) and Bashir Al-Assad (Syria). A women’s march with no mention of the suffering of all of these women would reinforce the idea that this was a privileged White Women’s bitchin’ fest.

The Women’s March organizers were, well, organized. There was not only the March on Saturday, but workshops and other events all week to build for it. These included a panel discussion Monday night called “Why Women Lead on Climate.” Tuesday night saw a panel entitled “Reproductive Rights, Health, and Justice, and the 2020 Landscape.” Wednesday night’s event was billed “Solidarity and the Immigration Justice Movement.” On Thursday afternoon, a shifting of gears occurred, as activists headed to the White House for a “No War on Iran” protest, which included non-violent direct action (civil disobedience). That evening, the women settled in to make posters for the upcoming protest at a “poster-making party.” On Friday afternoon, march organizers held a press conference at Freedom Plaza, the starting point for the March the next day. That night, they held a networking session for youth activists. And on Sunday, the day after the March, a “Fourth Wave Drag Lunch” was held, where participants had an opportunity to meet the March leadership. It was organized to a T, as only women can organize.

The website had numerous options for endorsing, contributing, and getting text updates for the March itself. There was a major pumping of Women’s March merchandise, on the website, as well as in follow-up emails and texts sent to recipients who opted in to receive updates.

(Amusingly, when I attempted to sign up for text updates, the system asked how much I would like to contribute. I checked the box for “$0, unable to contribute at this time,” as I did not wish to donate to what I considered a privileged, predominantly White feminist march. The system would not allow me proceed unless I contributed! I relented and checked the box for a hefty $5. Viola! I was registered to receive updates from the March.)

The Women’s March website had a map delineating the precise march route. That morning, I ran the Martin Luther King Day 5k in Carderock. It was 26 degrees during the race, and there was light snow on the trail we ran. After the race, I was in dire need of de-thawing. As a result, I arrived a little late at the March. Despite my late arrival, I was able to locate the march with ease—thanks to the map issued by the organizers.

By the time I arrived near Freedom Plaza, the starting and ending point of the protest, light snow had changed to rain and freezing rain. Mere blocks away from the protest, I nearly turned tail and left. It seemed highly unlikely that they would persevere in freezing cold precipitation. And yet, there they were.

As I caught up to the March, I realized its scale. Although far less than the 200,000 of the original 2017 Women’s March, which arose in response to Trump’s election, the women (and their male allies) were in the tens of thousands. As an organizer, I know how hard it is to keep up the momentum of a movement or protest action, and I applauded them for their resilience.

The predominantly White women marchers carried signs like “Impeach the Rapist,” “Keep Abortion Legal,” “Trump/Pence Out Now,” “Cage the Con, Not the Kids,” “Rise Up for the Earth,” “Reproductive Justice for All,” and “Fight the Climate Crisis, Not Birth Control.” When they reached the White House, they sang and danced to the song "Un violador en tu camino" ("A Rapist in Your Path"), following the lead of the Chilean protest group Lastesis.

I walked with the marchers briefly, then took up a position on a park bench across from DAR Constitution Hall, near the Ellipse with my sign for Dr. Aafia. The sign, which I’d hastily penned the night before, read: “Pakistani Women say: FREE DR. AAFIA SIDDIQUI, U.S. political prisoner.” Thousands of marchers passed, clearly intrigued by my sign. I received numerous thumbs up, fist pumps, waves of sympathy, and nods of appreciation. As my sign was unusual, many wanted to photograph it. Some of the marchers had heard of Aafia’s case. Others were intensely curious about who she was, why and where she was in prison, and whether I was related to her. It was an overwhelming positive vibe from the marchers, and I was glad I was there.

A while later, I could see the last few contingents of the march approaching. As my hands were numb from cold, I rejoined the group and headed back towards Freedom Plaza. En route, I stopped and did a brief Facebook live presentation on Aafia, and why I was there. Very soon thereafter, my colleague from the Aafia Foundation, Mauri Saalakhan, who has advocated for Aafia from the onset of her travails, shared the video with over thirty Facebook groups. This resulted in 3,400 views and 229 shares. Alhamdulillah.

Analysis

In July 2019, three of the founding board members of the Women’s March, Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, and Linda Sarsour were forced to resign, in the face of allegations of “anti-semitism” (Orwellian Doublespeak for anything which questions, or fails to toe the line of the Zionists, however remotely). One more, Carmen Perez, was the target of similar accusations, but remained on the board. She did, however, have to write numerous op-eds apologizing for the Women’s March’s failure to address anti-semitism in a timely fashion.

Ostensibly to increase diversity in the leadership of the Women’s March, a 17-member Board of Directors was brought in. Of these, three are Jewish (Ginna Green, Ginny Goldman, and Rabbi Tamara Cohen), one is transgender (Isa Noyola), and one is queer (Charlene Carruthers). There are two Muslim women (Palestinian-American Samia Assed; and San Francisco CAIR’s Zahra Billoo).

But, the March’s aim of inclusivity and increasing diversity evidently did not extend to the denizens of the host city. Black Lives Matter-DC was outright excluded from the planning and logistics of the March. (This resulted in the American Civil Liberties Union’s DC chapter boycotting the March in solidarity with BLM-DC.) In addition to ignoring BLM, the Women’s March leadership failed to reach out to other prominent Black activist groups in DC, like the National Black United Front (NBUF), the Pan-African Community Action (PACA), the Nation of Islam, the Clara Muhammad School, Masjid Al-Islam, or the All-African Peoples’ Revolutionary Party (A-APRP), in advance of the event.

The Women’s March states as its three major focus areas: immigration, climate, and reproductive justice. Given this, and the current leadership, it was not surprising that there was no voicing of key Muslim concerns: the ongoing incarceration of Muslim political prisoners; the government’s failure to close Guantanamo; the continued U.S. bombing of Syria and Iraq; and U.S. support for Israeli Apartheid. While privileged White women marched for the right to have an abortion, women in Iraq and Syria yearned for the right not to have a U.S. missile land in their living room; or to have drinking water clear of cholera, and soil free of depleted uranium.

Major concerns of the Black and Brown community, like police brutality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and mass incarceration, while marginally present in the Women’s March in previous years, seemed almost completely absent at the 2020 march. To hold a protest in a historically Black city—and yet neglect such key issues seemed to me a major shortcoming of the March.

Even the timing of the March, on Martin Luther King Day weekend, seemed to me an act of hubris. It meant that DC’s limited resources—subways, buses, cafes, porta-potties, and much else—would go to serve the Women’s March, instead of for MLK Day activities. The women in the pussy hats had learned imperial patriarchy well.

© 2020 Nadrat Siddique