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The Book of the Week is “We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders, A Memoir of Love and Resistance” by Linda Sarsour, published in 2020.
First off, the author explained that jihad means “to strive.” When using this word, the vast majority of people who practice the religion of Islam are not extremists and therefore do not take it to mean “religious war.”
Of course, propagandists (haters, predatory stalkers, bullies, doxers and their ilk) twist a word such as “jihad” so that all Muslims are branded as extremists and the one-word description most often used in the United States– “terrorists.” The propagandists know how to whip up a frenzy of fear, and get satisfaction from: seeing their victims sustain psychological damage, as much as egging on their followers who do physical damage.
Anyway, the author, the oldest of seven siblings of Palestinian extraction, was born in May 1980 in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, New York State. She grew up in the nearby Sunset Park section– the multi-ethnic, immigrant community in which “…neighbors looked out for each other and disciplined one another’s children…”
At the author’s high school, John Jay, there were only three guidance counselors for more than three thousand students, but every day, tens of police officers arrested students whose punishments were outsized, for the minor offenses committed. After 9/11, across the country, numerous culturally and linguistically disadvantaged young rule-breakers (who were targeted because they were Muslim) were detained and deported without due process. Other Muslims left of their own accord, as they saw that the United States was becoming a hostile residential environment for them.
The author helped found an organization that assisted Islamic women and children in New York City. She and her colleagues practiced local political activism and community organizing. They realized they needed to ally with other minority groups to acquire sufficient power to change education policies for their own group. They also knew they needed to become partisan, so they formed the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, before the 2013 mayoral election.
In December 2014, the author and her fellow activists protested the handling of two different incidents the previous summer; the deaths of two (non-Caucasian) men resulting from law enforcement’s extremely inappropriate conduct in Staten Island in New York State, and in Ferguson, Missouri. The protestors got together with pop cultural influencers and social justice advocates including Jay-Z and Lebron James to stage a “die-in” at a New York Nets basketball game in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This, on a night when there was high attendance because the royal couple William and Kate were there.
Read the book to learn many other details about the author’s: family, and her trials and tribulations as a Muslim and an activist.