Perhaps it was only a matter of time before anti-Muslim rhetoric, embodied most prominently by Donald Trump, hit NYC's diverse neighborhoods. It's ugly, it's unacceptable and it must be stopped.
Astoria shop owner Sarker Haque was beaten Saturday by an attacker saying, "I kill Muslims," according to Haque. Late last month, three sixth-grade boys allegedly punched a sixth-grade girl and tried to remove her hijab, a head covering worn by Muslim women, at a Bronx public school.
The incidents came before Trump proposed banning Muslims from entering the United States. But the Republican presidential hopeful's earlier support for a registry of Muslims and closing mosques has accompanied a simmering backlash against Muslims, which was spurred by fears after terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
Now, NYC is fighting back. First, Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the Jamaica Muslim Center in Queens last week, said the city was "stronger" because of its Muslim community. De Blasio's visit came after Trump's earlier comments about registries and mosques.
This week, a groundswell of grassroots efforts has begun, as city residents express fury at how some of their own are being treated. Yesterday, city officials and community members rallied at City Hall, with the trending hashtag #WeAreOneNYC. Another rally, titled Human Rights Trump Oppression, is planned for 5 p.m. today, near Trump International Hotel and Tower. And a petition to block Trump from entering the United Kingdom had more than 250,000 signatures by midday yesterday.
But in communities here, people are focused on caring for each other. Astoria residents denounced the attack in their neighborhood, checked up on Haque, and organized their rally, scheduled for 11:30 a.m. today at Haque's Fatima Food Mart. There's talk of adding signs to store and apartment windows saying "refugees welcome here," and of shopping in stores owned by Muslims, like Haque.
This is a chance for the right voice, a welcoming one of tolerance and inclusiveness, to become the loud one. Perhaps it won't be louder than Trump's, but it could be the one that matters, if more New Yorkers choose to listen.