Speech at St. Boniface Church, San Francisco
AMV Executive Director bridges
the gap with the Latino Community
My name is Samina Faheem. I am the Executive Director of American Muslim Voice, member national steering committee of Blue Triangle Network and We R One/Inter Community Action Alliance.
First of all I would like to thank Father Louis Vitale and all of you for inviting me. While we were all praying. I could not help feel the peace and warmth when I heard the song “America the beautiful’” I almost choked with emotions. America is beautiful. What makes America beautiful is all of its people. People from different backgrounds. Our diversity is what makes us special.
I am here today to share my story with you. I am a Muslim. First I would like to say we share one of the same problems. We are all immigrants. Some of us don’t have papers to be here. The laws of this land makes that illegal, but we are all human beings and need to be treated with respect and fairness. We all want the best future for our families. That’s what America offers. A dream for better future. I understand your struggle and honor it. (Amnesty International intern, Matt with father Louis Vitale)
Since 9/11 Muslims and Arabs have been the targeted communities. We have been blamed for that horrible tragedy. American Muslims and Arabs are hard working and law abiding honest people. Just like you, American Muslims and Arabs had nothing to do with that tragedy, but our administration has made life very difficult for all of us, with laws and measures like Patriot Act, INS Special registration, FBI roundups and detentions under Secret Evidence Act. The government officials are mistreating people, insulting and humiliating our religious and political leaders. They put them in shackles and chains and herd them together like common criminals even though they have only minor visa violations. They have no link with any terrorist activity. They are deporting 13,000 Muslims and Arab boys, men and seniors which is separating families and destroying peoples’ future, creating total despair in my community.
That is one of the reasons I am here to ask you to please help us, stand by us. I know that most of you understand racism. You have been a victim of that too. I am sorry that not too many communities provided any support for you. But we can change that and start to stand by each other and make the most beautiful diverse human wall of resistance and support, one that can’t be shaken. Please join us to preserve and protect our civil liberties and constitutional rights for all.
September 7, 2003