Thousands of people rallied in Times Square in New York on Sunday to express unity and solidarity with Muslims and protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.
The rally, officially titled "I Am A Muslim Too," was organized by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding—a coalition of religious groups led by music mogul and activist Russell Simmons and Rabbi Marc Schneider—and featured a diverse lineup of speakers, including Simmons; Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York; Imam Shamsi Ali; and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
"We're using the Muslim community as a scapegoat. We are being mean to the people who are the victims of terrorism," Simmons told the crowd, who waved American flags and held signs reading, "No Muslim Ban" and "We The People."
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Trump's January order banning travelers to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries has been put on hold by federal judges amid several civil rights lawsuits, but the president is attempting to circumvent the courts' decisions by implementing a revised immigration policy—and according to an Associated Press source, it targets the same seven countries.
The rally was also part of a larger day of action known as Immigrants' March Presidents Day 2017. Sarsour pointed out that the date, February 19, marked the 75th anniversary of the day President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the mass relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans.
"I ask you...that you commit to being part of the true, never-again generation," she said. "Not on our watch, not on my watch, not on your watch."
"While you are saying, 'I am Muslim too,' I say to you, 'I am unapologetically Muslim all day, every day,'" she said.
De Blasio, who has recently declared New York to be a sanctuary city, told the crowd, "we have to dispel the stereotypes" about Muslims and refugees and that America is "a country founded to protect all faiths and all beliefs."