Photos by Stephanie Perez.
A diverse crowd rallied with posters outside the Long Beach Islamic Center Friday afternoon to show their support for the Muslim American community.
The gathering brought together about 150 people, including Councilman Roberto Uranga, Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) board member Megan Kerr, Signal Hill Mayor Lori Woods and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia who organized the event in light of last week’s election of Donald Trump as president and amid a wave of concern felt by immigrants from all countries.
“For me, in particular, when I came to this country as an immigrant and as an openly gay man, as someone who didn’t speak the language, I know what it is like to feel like a different person in a place you consider to be home,” said Garcia at the rally. “This time in our country’s history is hard for me to watch.”
Garcia mentioned how the FBI released new statistics on the increasing amount of hate crime in the past year, which revealed Muslim Americans as the largest community targeted.
Chairman of the Long Beach Islamic Center, Tarek Mohamed, said he greatly appreciated every single person in his community, Long Beach, and the center.
“Let us all send an unshakable message for whoever wants to violate our rights,” said Mohamed. “We are one community and we are united at any level. We will not allow America to go back into the darkness and we are going to keep going.”
The crowd chanted “we are one” after hearing Mohamed speak.
Nahla Lbiali, a member of the Long Beach Islamic Center was surprised at the turnout of the rally and echoed Mohamed’s words.
“I feel their [supporters] kindness and they are trying to keep us safe,” she said. “I hope next year will be better, if we have people who aren’t Muslim supporting us then whatever happens to America, it won’t return to darkness just like Mohamed said.”
During the rally, Islamic Center community members handed out flowers to individuals and Mohamed welcomed everyone to eat their post-service food.
“If we aren’t going to stand up for them, who is going to do it?” Garcia said. “We’ve got a new mission and energy—to stand up for everyone in our community. We know this isn’t just about Muslim Americans, this means we have to stand up for the LGBTQ community, immigrants, undocumented, women, veterans and the people who are feeling marginalized.”