MERI Statement in Response to New Zealand Tragedy

March 16, 2019

We are heartbroken, grieving, and angry in the wake of the horrifying massacre at Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Masjid in Christchurch, New Zealand.

We are holding and honoring the 50 people who were murdered and their families and loved ones, and praying and hoping for healing for the many injured. We are particularly horrified to see yet another white supremacist attack on a place of worship. A community’s sacred space should be safe — whether it is a mosque, synagogue, church, gurdwara, or other holy place. Violation of a community prayer space uniquely and seriously impacts its congregants and the community as a whole. It sends a threatening message to all, and right now people across the globe are mourning.

In the wake of this attack, we remain more committed than ever to organize together against Islamophobia and white supremacy. We believe that is the only way we can stop these types of attacks from continuing to happen. We understand that Islamophobia is rooted in anti-Black racism, intertwined with anti-immigrant xenophobia, and that the same forces attack Jews, women, LGBTQ people, and other communities. We are fighting for safety and liberation for all of our people.

This attack did not happen only because of the actions of a few hateful individuals. This was a white supremacist attack, directly rooted in white supremacy and the Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, antisemitism, Xenophobia, and colonialism which comprise and underlie it. In attacker Brenton Tarrant’s 74-page racist manifesto, he invokes anti-immigrant tropes including the white fear that [Muslim] immigrants are “invaders” who will “replace” white people in Europe and in settler-colonial countries such as the U.S. and Australia. He also celebrated Trump as a symbol of white identity.

We must understand this attack in a broader context. As people living in the U.S., we must remember that the United States plays a particular role in a global system of Islamophobia and white supremacy, using the so-called war on terror to entrench the myth that Muslims are a violent threat. The United States has an agenda of dehumanizing Muslim people to defer criticism of long running wars and drone attacks to help our country profit from resources and geopolitical influence. It is this white supremacy that lay the groundwork for this tragic attack. It is Islamophobia that allowed the federal government to create ICE in 2002, which is now terrorizing immigrant communities across this continent. It is this ideology which the Chinese government invokes to justify its mass imprisonment of the Uyghur community in Xinjiang. It is white supremacy that led to white supremacist attacks on the Tree of Life Synagogue in 2018, Emanuel AME Church in 2016, and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in 2012. It is this anti-Black and Islamophobic framework that is underneath recent attacks on congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

And, we understand that relying on law enforcement ultimately does not keep our communities safe. Police departments in the U.S. have a long-standing relationship to white supremacist ideologies, having emerged through the institutionalization of capturing and re-enslaving Africans and people of African descent seeking freedom. The connection of police departments to racism against Black, Brown, and Arab people continues today through racial profiling, mass incarceration, collaboration with ICE, and exchange programs with the Israeli military. We also note the mistreatment and abuse of transgender and non-binary people and the harassment of women wearing hijabs and modest dress at the hands of police departments here in North Carolina and beyond. Audre Lorde teaches, “for by this weapon / this illusion of some safety to be found / the heavy-footed hoped to silence us.” We agree with her that “it is better to speak.” We believe authentic relationships with one another and action aimed at breaking down systematized white supremacy are how we support and protect our people.

Therefore we call on our communities, as we sit with and move through grief and heartbreak over these precious lives lost in Christchurch, to also take action together against white supremacy in all its forms. We believe that together we can end the intertwined evils of anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, Xenophobia, and antisemitism, and that our work for liberation must be collective. We call on our communities to protect each other with love and care.

2018 Events

Check out the following list of events that were organized/supported by Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia.

12/13/2018: Press Conference and Protest for the release of Abdoulie Sowe.
Abdoulie Sowe is a Gambian resident of Raleigh who was detained by ICE in 2018. MERI worked with family and friends of Abdoulie Sowe to demand his release. A press conference and protest was organized outside Federal Building in Raleigh to demand an end to deportation and detention of Abdoulie Sowe.

Family and friends of Abdoulie Sowe joined the press conference and protest to demand justice for Abdoulie Sowe.

10/28/2018: Forum on Racism, Islamophobia, Anti-Immigrant/Anti-Refugee Oppression in Raleigh, NC

MERI supported a forum against racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant/anti-refugee oppression at Tarboro Rd Community Center in Raleigh in October 2018. Community members who have been impacted by these oppressions, including Imam Ukkashah Muhammad, Rolanda Byrd, Zohra Oumous, Fatime Sowe, and other members spoke at the event.

Fatima Sowe describing ICE detention and human rights abuses against her father, Abdoulie Sowe

10/16/2018: Media Workshop Against Racism and Islamophobia in Durham, NC
Triangle community members gathered to build a media campaign to seek justice for Sheikh Ukkashah Muhammad. Shiekh Muhammad bag was removed from an American Airline plane without his knowledge, an incident he considers is a result of profiling agains Muslims and African Americans.

Sheikh Ukkashah Muhammad with members of MERI Media Workshop.

10/14/2018: Presentation titled “Challenging Racism and Islamophobia” at Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh, NC.
This presentation was made by MERI member, Manzoor Cheema. Some of the topics discussed included exploring Islamophobia from racial lens, similarities between institutional Islamophobia and racism, and how to challenge these oppressions.

Congregants and friends of Community United Church of Christ who participated in anti-Islamophobia presentation.

08/30/2018: Press Conference Against Racism and Islamophobia, Raleigh, NC
Sheikh Ukkashah Muhammad and Zohra Muhammad described anti-Muslim and racist attacks against them during a press conference in Raleigh in August 2018. Sheikh Muhammad’s bag was removed from inside an American Airline plane without informing him. Ms. Oumous was denied visit to her son at Maury Correction Institute in Eastern NC for wearing a hijab.

Zohra Oumous and Sheikh Ukkashah Muhammad are speaking at the press conference on racism and Islamophobia.

08/04/2018: Muslim Exhibit and Fundraiser for MERI
Triangle friends attended a Muslim art exhibit in connection with a fundraiser for MERI. This art exhibit, titled “History of Durham’s Ar-Razzaq Islamic Center”, was hosted by The Museum of Durham History. The exhibit depicted the history of one of the oldest Muslim communities in North Carolina.

Participants at “History of Durham’s Ar-Razzaq Masjid” art exhibit at The Museum of Durham History

05/04/2018 Anti-Racism, Anti-Islamophobia, Immigrant/Refugee Rights Assembly in Raleigh, NC
Triangle based community members impacted by and fighting racism, Islamophobia, and immigrant/refugee rights gathered for an assembly or open space to strategize building a stronger anti-oppression movement. This assembly took place at Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center in Raleigh, NC.

Participants of Black, Brown, Muslim Assembly in Raleigh, NC

07/31/2018. Media Workshop Against Racism and Islamophobia.
MERI organized a quarterly media workshop against racism and Islamophobia in July 2018, at the LGBTQ Center of Durham. Participants wrote letters to the editor and developed media campaigns to challenge racism, Islamophobia, and other forms of oppressions.

Participants of media workshop against racism and Islamophobia at the LGBTQ Center in Durham

07/22/2018: Carolina Jews for Justice host Tisha B’Av: Mourning and Resisting Immigration Injustice
Carolina Jews for Justice commemorated the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av to mourn the oppression against immigrants and refugees. MERI members and people from different backgrounds attended this solidarity event for immigrants and refugees.

06/20/2018: Solidarity Event for Pastors for Peace in Durham, NC

05/23/18 MERI Quarterly Meeting and Iftaar at The Light House in Raleigh

04/24/2018: Media Workshop Against Racism and Islamophobia at The Light House in Raleigh

04/20/2018: Teach-in Against Islamophobia and Racism at Duke University

03/20/18: Presentation Against Racism and Islamophobia at Chapel Hill Library

03/04/18: Workshop Against Islamophobia and Racism at Judea Reform Congregation in Durham.

03/01/2018: MERI wins Atticus Finch Award Against Racism

01/27/18: Workshop Against Racism and Islamophobia in Durham

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01/16/2018: Media Workshop Against Racism and Islamophobia at The Light House

MEDIA ADVISORY: Press Conference Thursday, December 13, at 4PM to Demand Release of Raleigh Father from ICE Detention


Manzoor Cheema


MEDIA ADVISORY: Press Conference Thursday, December 13, at 4PM to Demand Release of Raleigh Father from ICE Detention

Friends of Raleigh community member Abdoulie Sowe have called a press conference to demand that he be released from ICE detention and returned home to his family.

The Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, Muslims for Social Justice, and the North Carolina Gambian Association will gather at 4PM Thursday, December 13th at the Federal Building. The organizations are calling on Representative David Price and Senator Thom Tillis to advocate on Sowe’s behalf. They are also calling on ICE Atlanta Director Sean Gallagher to grant Sowe’s Stay of Removal and return him to his family.

Sowe has lived in Raleigh for over 25 years, and he is the father of three children and the primary breadwinner in the family. His youngest daughter, age 6, has special needs.

Sowe been held in immigration detention at Stewart Detention Center for the last three months. His family is also concerned about his physical health: Sowe suffers from kidney disease, diabetes, and hypertension, and he was a recipient of a kidney before his detention — and missed necessary anti-rejection medicine during his detention at Stewart Detention Center. If deported, Abdoulie cannot receive the medical treatment he needs to stay alive.

WHAT: A press conference with speakers including Sowe’s family members and representatives of various community organizations.

WHERE: The Federal Building in Raleigh, 310 New Bern Ave.


Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia is a North Carolina-wide network which stands and acts together against all forms of Islamophobia and racism. MERI understands both Islamophobia and racism within a framework that sees how discrimination based on race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and religion are part of multiple, interlocking forms of oppression that reinforce and sustain one another. More information and a list of partner organizations are available at

Muslims for Social Justice is a North Carolina based organization dedicated to human rights and social justice for all. MSJ believes in the empowerment of the marginalized, grassroots democracy, economic & environmental justice, respect for diversity, and responsible local & foreign policy. Read more at

North Carolina Gambian Association can be found at

Abdoulie with his daughter, Mariam. Mariam has special needs and needs her father at home.

Abdoulie Sowe with his daughter Fatima

Past Events in 2017

List of Events in 2017

11/12/17: MERI Workshop at As-Salaam Islamic Center in Raleigh.
MERI members Letha Muhammad, Noah Rubin-Blose and Manzoor Cheema co-facilitated anti-Islamophobia workshop at the historically Black mosque in Raleigh – As-Salaam Islamic Center.

MERI members attended Southern Movement Assembly VII at Franklinton Center at Bricks in Whitakers, NC. MERI members Letha Muhammad and Manzoor Cheema co-facilitated a workshop on Islamophobia with Shafeah M’Balia and Munir Abdul Hakeem (James Perry).

10/04/17. Anti-Islamophobia letter writing workshop in Raleigh, NC.
Members wrote letters on Muslim Ban, plight of Rohingya Muslims, and other oppressions. Read MERI media publications HERE.

9/16/17. Anti-Islamophobia workshop at CHRONIC (Carolina Human Rights Organizing Network) 2017 Conference in Greenville, SC.
MERI Coordinator Manzoor Cheema made a presentation titled “Challenging Racism and Islamophobia” at this annual conference that brings together social justice organizers in South Carolina, North Carolina, and other parts of the country.

7/15/17. Partnered with Anti-Racism, Anti-Islamophobia, Immigrant/Refugee Rights Assembly in Raleigh.
This grassroots people’s assembly brought together social justice organizers throughout the Triangle area of North Carolina and beyond. Participants strategized on building anti-oppression movement.

7/12/17. Anti-Islamophobia letter-writing workshop in Durham.
MERI organizes quarterly letter-writing workshops against Islamophobia. Click links  to read letters and op-ed from this workshop.

6/10/17. Anti-Islamophobia protest in Raleigh (counter ACT for America protest). MERI supported anti-Islamophobia protest led by Muslim women organizers. Read more HERE and HERE.

6/7/17. MERI upported press conference for the release of Mosa Hamadeesa from ICE Detention (MERI continued to mobilize for 2 months for the release of Mosa Hamadeesa) in downtown Raleigh. Participants contacted located legislators and ICE for the release of Mosa Hamadeesa.

4/26/17. Anti-Islamophobia forum at Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center in Raleigh, NC.
MERI co-organized Anti-Racism, Anti-Islamophobia and Worker Rights forum at Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center in Raleigh.

4/1/17. Anti-Islamophobia presentation at North Carolina Public Workers Union – UE Local 150 Municipal Meeting in Greensboro, NC. As a result of this presentation, UE Local 150 passed a resolution against Islamophobia at workplace. This was followed by a similar resolution by national UE Union. Read more HERE.

3/30/17. Anti-Islamophobia presentation at North Carolina State University School of Social Work’s Spring 2017 Symposium.
The theme of this symposium was “Poverty and Advocacy: Intersectionality of Poverty, Race and Gender”. MERI Coordinator Manzoor Cheema made a presentation titled “ Challenging Racism and Islamophobia”.

3/25/17. Anti-Islamophobia workshop at 2017 Jack Crum Conference organized by Methodist Federation for Social Action – North Carolina Chapter. MERI members Letha Muhammad and Manzoor Cheema co-facilitated this workshop.

3/18/17. Speech on Islamophobia at Legislative Meeting for Refugee Rights at NC General Assembly. This event was organized by University of North Carolina Refugee Wellness.

3/4/17. Anti-Islamophobia presentation at Take It Back Raleigh event at Vital Link School. This event was organized Raleigh-based social justice organizer Erika Moss on behalf of Power Up NC.

MERI participated in Triangle People’s Assembly in Durham, NC, on February 25, 2017. This event invited approximately hundred folks from throughout the Triangle area of NC. Participants discussed response to MuslimBan, attacks on immigrants, local action during May Day 2017, and other actions.

MERI facilitated Islamophobia workshop at League of Women Voters (Wake County) meeting in Raleigh, NC, on February 24, 2017. The League of Women Voters of Wake County is a nonpartisan organization whose purposes are to encourage the active participation of all citizens in government, to work to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Learn about our workshops and presentations HERE.

MERI members participated in HKonJ 2017/11th Annual Moral March on Raleigh on February 11, 2017. MERI Coordinator, Manzoor Cheema, spoke on the need to end racism, Islamophobia and other forms of oppression. Anti-Islamophobia allies from MERI, Muslims for Social Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle, and other organizations participated in this rally.

MERI made a presentation on Islamophobia in Winston-Salem on February 9, 2017. This meeting was organized by Winston-Salem Sanctuary City Movement and hosted by Green Street United Methodist Church.

MERI facilitated a workshop on Islamophobia at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia, South Carolina, on February 5, 2017.  This workshop explored roots of anti-Muslim bigotry, connection between Islamophobia and anti-Black racism, cases of anti-Muslim bigotry in our community and how to challenge this oppression.

MERI members participated “No Ban, No Wall” protest in downtown Raleigh on February 4, 2017. This protest was organized by NC United for Refugees and Immigrants and allies. Members of Muslims for Social Justice, Jewish Voices for Peace – Triangle, and allies spoke about the need to defeat anti-Muslim bigotry, attacks on immigrants and other oppressions.

MERI facilitated a workshop on Islamophobia and racism hosted by El Pueblo in Raleigh, NC, on February 4, 2017. El Pueblo is a Raleigh-based organization that envisions a just and equal community where all are respected, valued, and engaged.
                                                                    Picture by El Pueblo
MERI Coordinator Manzoor Cheema spoke about MuslimBan executive order during a Facebook video conference organized by SEIRN (Southeast Immigrant Rights Network). This event was organized in Raleigh, NC, on February 2, 2017. Other participants included Nayely Irais (SEIRN), Martha Hernandez (Comite de Accion Popular), Griselda Alonso (formerly with El Pueblo).

MERI made a presentation titled “Challenging Racism and Islamophobia in Hillsborough, NC, on January 29, 2017. This event was organized by Orange County Human Relations Commission.  Panelists included Fatema Ahmad (Muslims for Social Justice), Mark Dorosin (Orange County Commissioner, UNC Center for Civil Rights) and Manzoor Cheema (MERI and MSJ). This discussion was moderated by Imam Shane Atkinson, Associate Imam at As-Salaam Islamic Center and Muslim Life Coordinator at Elon University.

MERI members attended the second session of the Triangle People’s Assembly in Raleigh, NC, on January 28, 2017. Triangle People’s Assembly was launched by a coalition of organizations, including Black Workers for Justice, Muslims for Social Justice, UE Local 150, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, Durham Solidarity Center, Fight for $15, Organize 2020, Durham Beyond Policing, and other organizations. Learn more HERE.

MERI members attended a rally in support of refugees in the wake of MuslimBan/anti-immigrant executive orders. This rally was organized on January 27, 2017 in downtown Durham by NC United for Refugees and Immigrants and Christian World Service. 

MERI Coordinator Manzoor Cheema made a presentation on Islamophobia at Emerson Waldorf High School in Chapel Hill, NC, on January 19, 2017. Other panelists included Prof. Juliane Hammer (UNC-CH), Aisha Anwar (Carolina Performing Arts) and Imam Abdul Waheed (Duke University Muslim Chaplain).

MERI supported the Muslims for Social Justice to organize a workshop titled “Know Your Rights” at As-Salaam Islamic Center in Raleigh on January 18, 2017. This workshop was facilitated by the international recognized human rights lawyer and legal director of Project South – Azadeh Shahshahani.

MERI partners attended a forum titled “Linking Our Struggles During the Trump Era” at Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center in Raleigh, NC, on January 17, 2017. This forum brought representatives from anti-racism, worker rights, immigrant rights, anti-Islamophobia movements and allies.





Know Your Rights Resource Guide

Check out Know Your Rights resources by National Lawyers Guild. The following booklet provides information about rights when approached by law enforcement or government agencies (police, FBI, ICE, etc.), and rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

Find the resources she shared with attendees in multiple languages here.

NLG Know Your Rights


Here is important information for immigrants & refugees from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen in the wake of #MuslimBan executive order.
Your Rights

Upcoming January Events

“Linking Our Struggles During Trump Era” Forum

When: Tuesday, January 17, 2017. 6PM – 8:30PM

Where: Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center

4200 Lake Ridge Dr
Raleigh, NC 27604
Linking Struggle 4

During this era, there is an urgency to build a stronger social justice movement against all forms of oppression. This discussion will bring together members from anti-racism, worker rights, immigrant & refugee rights, anti-Islamophobia movements, and allies from all social justice movements. We will discuss challenges faced by these movements and how to build stronger links with other movements. Join us in our discussion on how to link our struggles and build a stronger social justice movement!

We will offer transportation for the participants, if needed. Interpretation services for Spanish speakers will also be provided. For more questions, contact

Black Workers for Justice
Freedom Manifesto/Black Liberation Unity Committee(BLUC) Study Group
Muslims for Social Justice
UE Local 150
Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia
NC-United for Refugees and Immigrants (Refugee Rights)
AIME (Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East)
Project South
Triangle Unity May Day Coalition
“Know Your Rights” workshop
When: Wednesday, January 18, 2017. 6PM – 8:30PM

Where: As-Salaam Islamic Center/Vital Link School
1214 E Lenoir Street
Raleigh, NC 27610
With the current political climate, there is concern among many groups about how to handle encounters with law enforcement. In particular, many Muslims were approached by the FBI the weekend before the election. 

Azadeh Shahshahani will be presenting legal information about your rights when approached by any law enforcement or government agency (police, FBI, etc), and your rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression. An internationally recognized human rights lawyer, Azadeh is the current Legal and Advocacy Director for Project South. She is past resident of NC, and previous president of the National Lawyers Guild. 

Learn about Project South here:

This workshop is open to absolutely anyone who feels they or their community may be targeted by law enforcement and government agencies, whether local police departments, FBI, TSA, NSA, etc. Groups that are often targeted by these agencies include people who are or are associated with Muslims, African Americans, immigrants, Latinos, and South Asians.
This event is hosted by As-Salaam Islamic Center and organized by Muslims for Social Justice. Sponsored by Muslim American Public Affairs Council (MAPAC).
Snacks will be provided.
Facebook Event Page
Women’s March on Raleigh
When: Saturday, January 21, 10AM
Where: City Plaza on Fayetteville Street
400 Fayetteville St
Raleigh, NC 27601
This is a local event to march in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington. MEET AT CITY PLAZA ON FAYETTEVILLE ST. IN FRONT OF MARRIOTT AT 10:00AM. STEP OFF AT 10:30. MARCH TO MOORE SQUARE. RALLY PROGRAM BEGINS AT 11:30 AT MOORE SQUARE.
Facebook Event Page
Triangle People’s Assembly

When:  Saturday, January 28, 12PM – 4PM

Where: TBD
Raleigh, NC

Join and help build the People’s Assembly.  The past few weeks have shown us just a glimpse about what we are up against at the state and Federal levels. The recent convening of 2017 Session of Congress announced major plans to attack health care and Federal employees rights on their first day. Trump has appointed corporate and Wall St. executives and enemies of the working class and oppressed peoples to his cabinet, wealthy elites that hate the very people their departments are designed to safeguard. The right-wing in Raleigh is trying to maintain their control of the Governor’s office and has made power grabs altering control in many state departments. We have to fight back and our movements MUST DIG DEEPER INTO OUR COMMUNITIES, SCHOOLS AND WORKPLACES if we are to be more united than ever.

We must develop the People’s Assembly as the front line of resistance, uniting all the organizing forces in our communities, schools and workplaces and engaging newly active people.  At the last assembly ON December 4TH 2016 we had representatives from many of the local struggles for Black, immigrant, Muslim,  worker, woman, environmental and electoral rights and  power. But we must continue to unite and learn from the many other battlefronts and struggles that are fighting back. We must learn lessons from each other’s practice, struggle and organizing, so that we can raise our collective  mass political consciousness. We must learn together about the critical role and timely need for the Peoples Assembly organizing process as  an independent political action necessity in 2017!  

We need your help to develop a People’s Assembly process to serve as a fundamental component of sharing reports,  learning from each other, strengthening a democratic, bottom-up grassroots movement to engage a stronger vision and  struggle for  working peoples power and transformative change in our communities, workplaces and society.

Facebook Event Page

Press Advisory: Triangle Interfaith Community to Protest Anti-Muslim Talk Tonight (10/18)

Members of the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia will stage a protest outside of Extraordinary Ventures Event Center at 200 S Elliott Rd in Chapel Hill from 6-8PM tonight during a talk by an anti-Muslim speaker, Diana West.

Diane West was invited to speak as part of the ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) lecture series. West has written in favor of profiling Muslims (source, 6/13/13) and characterized Muslim immigration to the US as an “invasion by alien hordes” (source, 8/26/15).

Organizers expect 30 protestors with signs and chants outside the event.

This protest follows a letter written to Extraordinary Ventures last week which requested that EV not host the lecture. The letter was signed by eight community organizations and individuals including prominent faith leaders from across the Triangle. In response, EV posted to its facebook page, “We stand by the right of free speech while at the same time appreciating your concerns… We only rent space to the public. As such, we cannot and do not discriminate by refusing to rent space to people we may disagree with.”

In contrast, the letter characterizes West’s positions as hate speech, noting, “There is a dramatic rise in attacks against Muslims as a result of hate speech and institutional Islamophobia. Muslims, and people perceived as Muslims, are attacked and murdered throughout the country.” On February 10, 2015, three Muslim students were shot to death in Chapel Hill, and police have investigated their murder as an anti-Muslim hate crime.

Protestors will call on EV to cancel this and all future ICON lectures, while noting that they appreciate EV’s mission to provide services for autistic and developmentally challenged youth, and as a venue for community events.

Organizations who signed the letter include the Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East, Black Workers for Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC, the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, Muslims for Social Justice, Triangle May Day Unity Coalition, Triangle SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice), and Witness for Peace Southeast. The letter was also signed by Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, whose two daughters and son-in-law were killed in the Chapel Hill shooting last year.


Manzoor Cheema

Cancel Diana West and ICON Series

Extraordinary Ventures

200 S Elliott Rd

Chapel Hill, NC 27514


Dear Sir/Madam,

As Triangle community members, we value the important work by Extraordinary Ventures, including services for autistic and developmentally challenged youth, and providing a venue for important events.

We have been saddened to learn that on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, ICON will invite Diana West to speak at Extraordinary Ventures in Chapel Hill, NC. This is a disturbing development for peace and justice loving community members in the Triangle and beyond.

Diana West has been known for virulent hatred against Muslims and immigrants. She has contributed to the paranoia that Muslims want to take over the country and establish their religious law (Shariah law) in violation of the local and federal laws. Writing in a website (WND spearheaded conspiracy theories about Obama’s U.S. citizenship and challenged validity of birth certificate released by the Obama White House), West has said, “If our leaders really wanted to prevent ‘another 9/11, they would have long ago admitted the obvious: that the world of Islam, from its terrorists to its kings, is engaged in the latest historical cycle of jihad to extend the reach of Islamic law (Shariah). They would have decided that ‘profiling’ isn’t worse than terrorism. They would have halted Islamic immigration not only to stop more jihad cells from forming but also to prevent Constitution-endangering, pro-Shariah demographics from forming, too.” (source, 6/13/13)

Diana West has also endorsed Donald Trump’s xenophobia against immigrants. While writing in a website by Frank Gaffney (quoted as “anti-Muslim conspiracist and gadfly” by The Washington Post), West opined,“I think that what we are both reacting to is … the normalcy of his [Donald Trump’s] reaction to a crisis. He reacts, even though he’s an extraordinary human being that is in a category by himself for all manner of reasons, he is reacting like a normal person would react to the loss of a border, to the invasion by alien hordes, to this destruction of America as a sovereign nation, and I think that what we see happening…” (source, 8/26/15)

Learn more about Diana West HERE.

In the past, ICON lecture series has invited such racist and bigoted speakers:

  • Roy Beck, who has spoken at white nationalist organizations like Council of Conservative Citizens.
  • Jim Simpson, who believes that immigrants are trying to “destroy the culture” in the United States.
  • Mark Krikorian, who asserted that Muslims are a “vicious people” and they celebrate 9/11 as a Muslim holiday.
  • John Guandolo, who claimed that the goal of the Muslim Students Association is to “recruit jihadis” and “spread disinformation”.

Hate speech has real life consequences for the marginalized communities. Muslims, and immigrants in general, have been demonized and dehumanized by the forces of hate. Laws and policies have been introduced against them, including in North Carolina, as a result of concerted efforts by these forces. Diana West has contributed to the hysteria against Sharia law, which has led to the anti-Sharia movement throughout the country, including in North Carolina. NC General Assembly members passed anti-Sharia law that was signed into law by Governor McCrory in 2013. In a study of 100 anti-Sharia laws introduced in the country, it was found that 80% of these laws were introduced by the same legislators who introduced voter suppression, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti labor union and anti-immigrant laws (source).

There is a dramatic rise in attacks against Muslims as a result of hate speech and institutional Islamophobia. Muslims, and people perceived as Muslims, are attacked and murdered throughout the country. Three Muslim students were murdered in execution style in Chapel Hill in early 2015, an incident that many believe was an anti-Muslim hate crime. Victims of that heinous crime, Deah, Yusor and Razan, belonged to Muslim Students Association, the same organization that was demonized by Guandolo.

As Triangle community members, we urge Extraordinary Ventures to say no to the voices of hatred and bigotry. Many of the speakers invited by ICON series have played a role in institutional oppression against Muslims and immigrants. Hosting such bigoted voices at Extraordinary Ventures will harm marginalized communities and negate the mission of Extraordinary Ventures. We request Extraordinary Ventures to cancel Diana West’s upcoming speech and the future lecture series by ICON. We look forward to working with you to build a peaceful, just and loving community.

(A version of this letter will be emailed to ICON)

Signed by,


Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East

Black Workers for Justice

Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC

Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia

Muslims for Social Justice

Triangle May Day Unity Coalition

Triangle SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice)

Witness for Peace Southeast

Diana West to Speak in Chapel Hill

Diana West Invited to Speak at ICON event in Chapel Hill

Triangle based organization ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) organizes regular talks by anti-Muslim and anti-immigrants speakers. They will invite conservative speaker Diana West to Chapel Hill on October 18th at 7pm at Extraordinary Ventures located at 200 S Elliott Rd. in Chapel Hill, NC.

Who is Diana West? (courtesy of the Center for New Community)

Diana West is a controversial, anti-Muslim author and columnist with ties to the greater organized Islamophobia movement, both in the United States and internationally. West regularly purports that Muslims are a “fifth column” in the United States who, like the Communists of old, are actively working to infiltrate the U.S. government and other cultural institutions with hopes of overthrowing them from within. She regularly advocates the religion of Islam is incompatible and antithetical to Western values. Her two books, Death of Grownup and American Betrayal, serve as a base for her Joseph McCarthy-esque conspiracy theories.

West’s bigotry and paranoia, however, is not exclusive to Muslims. It also extends to Latino immigrants and refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East. She also regularly derides “multiculturalism,” once calling it a “Messianic cult.” West has made it clear she is no fan of so-called “political correctness,” a topic she will be discussing at length during the upcoming ICON series event. In the name of being politically incorrect, West has advocated for the ongoing surveillance of Muslim communities and for Muslim houses of worship to be shut down. She is also a proponent of Donald Trump’s controversial and arguably unconstitutional ban on Muslim immigration into the U.S.

In fact, West has taken a hardline nativist stance against all immigration from non-Western countries. She has previously claimed immigrants from Latin America are leading to the “Hispanization” of the U.S. and accused our country of admitting “diseased aliens for Central America.”

She has also lamented that “non-assimilable” refugees from the Islamic world are “being imposed on communities across the country.”

Embraced by controversial, racist figures

West’s rants and writings have helped her gain access and acceptance among various far-right and white nationalist figures. She is a weekly guest on “Secure Freedom Radio,” a radio program headed by notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy. She has also received a reward from Gaffney’s outfit for her works. Additionally, she contributed t a conspiratorial publication spearheaded by Gaffney and his group titled Shariah: The Threat to America.

In 2015, West was a featured speaker at a Writers’ Workshop event organized by white nationalist publishing house The Social Contract Press. The annual workshop is the brainchild of eugenist and founder of the organized anti-immigrant movement, John Tanton. West’s work has also been upheld by the virulently anti-immigrant, a website founded by notorious white nationalist Peter Brimelow.

West also keeps ties with international anti-Muslim figures. Most notably being far-right Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders. In 2014, West came out in support of Wilders during a time when members of his political party were deflecting after the parliamentarian led supporters in an anti-Moroccan immigrant chant during a campaign rally, a spectacle some spectacle some have hyperbolically claimed was akin to to Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels’ famous 1943 speech. West said she saw nothing wrong with the chants because “Moroccans top the charts in criminality” and in “social dependence.” She later defended Wilders by posing the question: “Is it ‘racism’ to oppose the demographic obliteration of a nation clearly underway?”

Diana West in her own words:

“We are watching Islam purifying to its most basic element with Islamic State’s actions. We are looking at Islam activated, weaponized, deployed.” (source, 2/4/15)

“The goals of Islam are quite similar to the goals of communism. As interms of ideologies they stack up with many similarities as terms of the totalitarian nature, the collectivism nature, the global reach. The notion of one world, all people are the same, global government, no borders.” (source, 6/17/13)

“It doesn’t matter what country they (immigrants) come from or what religion they are or what language they speak, they are different, they are strangers. And when you have such large masses of people coming in as foreigners, there can be no nation. There can only be accommodation of people who will need all kinds of services, all kinds of training, all kinds of welfare, etcetera.” (source, 1/13/16)

“If our leaders really wanted to prevent ‘another 9/11, they would have long ago admitted the obvious: that the world of Islam, from its terrorists to its kings, is engaged in the latest historical cycle of jihad to extend the reach of Islamic law (Shariah). They would have decided that ‘profiling’ isn’t worse than terrorism. They would have halted Islamic immigration not only to stop more jihad cells from forming but also to prevent Constitution-endangering, pro-Shariah demographics from forming, too.” (source, 6/13/13)

“I think that what we are both reacting to is … the normalcy of his [Donal Trump’s] reaction to a crisis. He reacts, even though he’s an extraordinary human being that is in a category by himself for all manner of reasons, he is reacting like a normal person would react to the loss of a border, to the invasion by alien hordes, to this destruction of America as a sovereign nation, and I think that what we see happening…” (source, 8/26/15)

“What’s happening in Europe is happening here, we have a similar immigration phenomenon coming up from Latin America, primarily, and … many others from across the world coming across our borderless southern flank. But this is the same thing we’re seeing with the immigration coming into Europe. This is the destruction of the West, this is the population replacement of the West by the rest of the world, by what we call the Third World, by the Middle East, by Islam, by Africa, by South America, this is all happening and it needs to be understood in a totality.” (source, 11/25/15)

This is essentially the attack, the twin attack of multiculturalism — which, of course, is a form of Marxism — overlaying with the Islamic incursions by demographics. And I think this has to be understood as a demographic war, which we can take to our own shores, not necessarily completely in Muslim demographics, but just the entire immigration tsunami we are experiencing that includes many people from Islamic countries, from the Middle East and elsewhere, but also huge masses from the rest of the world, primarily Mexico and South America, Central America. (source, 4/15/16)

More About Diana West
West is a conservative columnist and co-Vice President of the International Free Press Society (IFPS), a self-described “international advocacy group for free speech,” which in reality is nothing more than a coalition against all things Islam. Just as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer unleash hateful, anti-Muslim-and-Islam blog posts under the auspices of defending the First Amendment, IFPS does as well. Video from that recent conference reveals West proclaiming, “We’re not going to make any friends in Islam.”
Unsurprisingly, (Frank) Gaffney shares West’s opinions and—guess what—he’s on IFPS’s Advisory Board.

West’s collaboration with anti-Muslim and nativist forces
West is a long-time activist within the so-called “counter-jihad” movement serving as both the Vice President of the International Free Press Society – a coalition of anti-Muslim journalists and bloggers – and the Washington Correspondent for Lars Hedegaard’s weekly newspaper Dispatch International. Additionally, West often collaborates with Frank Gaffney by serving as a frequent guest on his radio program and co-writing the conspiratorial CSP publication Shariah: The Threat to America with Gaffney and other anti-Muslim extremists, including Tom Trento and John Guandolo.

West’s anti-immigrant remarks
During the July 9 (2014) episode of his radio program, Gaffney invited his colleague and fellow Islamophobe, Diana West, to push the theory that these (migrant) children are part of the Democrat’s grand scheme to import voters and usher in the “socialization of America.” In order to support such a claim, West told Gaffney many of these children coming into the country come from “big government” countries, and thus, they would be more likely vote for Democrats. West further supports this by citing certain polls that claim three out of four Hispanics are more likely to for big government, which runs counter to Republicans views of having limited government interference.

As a result of this exposed plot, West was adamant against these children receiving refugee status. She warned this was “not simply a humanitarian response, but a political assault using children from other countries to destroy the population of this country.”

West’s comments may sound extreme, but they represent the quintessential fears expressed by navitists. They continue to fear immigrants will transform the country, turn it into something unrecognizable and further challenge their entrenched and misguided beliefs of what it means to be American.

Video of Diana West creating paranoia of Muslim taking over the country


ICON series background

The ICON (Issues Confronting Our Nation) continues to invite controversial and problematic individuals to speak at its events. Some of which include:

Roy Beck, the president of the anti-immigrant grassroots organization NumbersUSA. In March 2016, Beck wrote in an article that current immigration policies to the U.S. have created “enabling pools” where criminals and terrorists “can easily swim out of sight of the authorities.” Previous events Beck has spoken at include a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a notorious white nationalist organization.

James “Jim” Simpson, a conservative author and speaker who works closely with anti-Muslim groups like the Center for Security Policy. Simpson has taken a hardline stance against Muslim immigrants and refugees coming in the nation. He previously accused liberals of being in support refugee resettlement and immigration policies so that they can “destroy the culture” and “create a huge pool of voters” that they can use to institute “despotic governments.” Simpson recently published a book where he claims the political left are trying to “erase” America with immigrants through “mass migration.”

In May 2017, Mark Krikorian, the executive director of the anti-immigrant think tank the Center for Immigration Studies, is scheduled to speak on the impact of mass migration into the U.S. Krikorian has previously called Muslims a “vicious people” and once suggested that 9/11 is a Muslim holiday. In a 2015 op-ed, Krikorian stated, “[r]elocating refugees from the Middle East to the U.S. is morally wrong.”