Arab Americans Organize with the ANSWER Coalition to Protest Trump Inauguration
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
Thousands of protestors are expected to turn out in Washington, DC on January 20 for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. In all, the National Parks Service has granted permits to 27 protest groups, more than four times the average for past inaugurations. Security in Washington are expecting at least 800,000 protestors and supporters to be in attendance on Friday, with another 200,000 people demonstrating at the Women’s March on Saturday, January 21.
Arab Americans are among those who will be demonstrating at the inauguration. The group that is likely to be the most visible is the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition, a group of Arab and non-Arab American activists who fight against U.S. wars of aggression. The group’s organizers have demonstrated against the Iraq War, the Israeli Occupation of Palestine, U.S. drone attacks on Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, and a number of other social justice issues.
According to Yasmina Mrabet, a media spokesperson and program coordinator for the ANSWER Coalition, the organization is the only one scheduled to demonstrate along the parade route, giving it major exposure to inauguration-goers and international media.
“Through our political and legal struggle, we have achieved permits enabling large numbers of people to gather together in plain view on Inauguration Day,” Mrabet told Arab America. “This is critical because the national and international media will be exclusively focused on the inaugural parade route itself.”
ANSWER Coalition is hoping the exposure will help their messages reverberate across American airwaves. Principally, the group will be protesting Donald Trump’s stances on immigrant and Muslim communities, labor unions, public education, social services, women’s rights, and his pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
Speaking about the embassy move specifically, Mrabet said it is “a clear signal that the incoming administration intends to embrace the program of complete annexation of Palestinian lands by the Israeli regime. Mrabet added that the policy is one of “hyper colonialism and racism, which people of conscience everywhere must oppose.”
The Coalition has already mobilized more than 100 organizations to join its demonstration, including Arab American, Palestinian American, Muslim, civil rights, women’s, and student organizations.
“On January 20th, we expect there will be a large contingent from the Arab American and Muslim communities including American Muslim Association, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), American Muslims for Palestine, Muslim American Society Immigrant Justice Center, and others,” Mrabet stated. Together, the groups will express support for justice in Palestine, and denounce Islamophobic and xenophobic policies merely a few yards away from the incoming president.
The ANSWER Coalition has a proven record of coordinating demonstrations of historic magnitude. In 2002, the organization welcomed 200,000 protestors in Washington, igniting a “global anti-war movement.” It carried into 2003, when 500,000 people used the slogan “Stop the War Before It Starts” to contribute to the “largest anti-war demonstration since the end of the Vietnam War.”
Mrabet and fellow organizers have been preparing for the demonstration since the November 8 elections. The ANSWER Coalition has planned bus trips for tens of thousands of eager participants across the country to attend the January 20 demonstration. Coalition volunteers have been painting the district with yellow and black posters, urging others to join.
“There is clear evidence that people care. They are motivated. They are ready to act,” Mrabet said enthusiastically.
Mrabet and her team are encouraging Arab Americans to get involved and refuse to be bystanders. “People who are recommending passivity, or to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude, can only adopt such a position if they themselves feel entirely comfortable and not targeted by Trump’s program,” said Mrabet.
While many Arab Americans are dismayed by what they see as offensive declarations, others have embraced Trump’s brazen approach to politics. However, since winning the election, Trump has disappointed a few of his Arab American voters with plans that threaten civil rights, as well as the placement of many pro-Israel advisors in his administration and his opposition the United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a halt to Israel’s illegal settlements program.
For those who wish to join, The ANSWER Coalition will be at the Navy Memorial Plaza between 7th and 8th St. on Pennsylvania Avenue, immediately adjacent to the parade route on Inauguration Day. They will also be on the west side of Freedom Plaza on 14th St. along Pennsylvania Avenue. Anyone is welcome to participate.
To become directly involved with the ANSWER Coalition or volunteer your assistance, please contact the ANSWER Coalition National office at 202-265-1948 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on buses coming from cities around the country, as well as other information about the January 20 demonstration, check out the ANSWER Coalition Facebook page and website at www.answercoalition.org.