Thousands of people from a variety of backgrounds met in New York City’s Times Square on Sunday to show solidarity with the Muslim community.
Speakers from almost every faith imaginable, civil rights leaders and politicians came out to participate in a protest that was titled, “Today I Am Muslim, too”.
Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Recordings, helped organize the event and posted a tweet claiming that between 7,000 and 10,000 people were in attendance. Among them were posters showing a Muslim woman wearing an American flag hijab and Donald Trump impersonators.
— Russell Simmons (@UncleRUSH) February 19, 2017
“We won’t speak too harshly of him today,” Simmons said in reference to President Donald Trump, who was once a friend of his. “We want to thank him for bringing us together.”
He went on to spread a message of love replacing hate and hopes that the growing fear of Muslims will disappear as Americans are educated on their struggles.
“So we are here today to show middle America our beautiful signs and, through our beautiful actions and intention, that they have been misled — that the seeds of hate that were small and maybe just ignorance cannot be watered, and that hate cannot grow because we are here to assist them in promoting love,” he said.
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) February 19, 2017
— I Am A Muslim Too (@iamamuslimtoo) February 19, 2017
Other speakers of note included New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Linda Sarsour, a Brooklyn-born Palestinian-American activist and commentator, according to CNN.
“I am unapologetically Muslim, all day, every day,” Sarsour said to the thousands in attendance. “I am not afraid because fear is a choice; it is not a fact. So today I ask you, in the true grit and spirit of a New Yorker, that you choose courage in the face of fear.”
“Today I Am Muslim, too” is far from Simmons’ first venture into protests in support of Muslims. In 2011, he held a protest in the same place to a much smaller crowd against congressional hearings on Islamic terrorism.
Simmons is an example of what people with platforms can and arguably should be doing to make sure that we live in a world that welcomes all and dispels hate and bigotry against any group. Hopefully, more will follow his lead.