UNC Students Hosts Talk on Islamophobia

UNC Chapel Hill South Asian Students Host a Talk on Islamophobia

South Asian and People of Color students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  hosted a talk on Islamophobia and racism on April 18, 2016. MERI’s member, Manzoor Cheema, made the presentation. This talk took place in a class taught by Anisha Padma and Aisha Anwar. This talk explored rooted of Islamophobia in racism and colonialism, and identified action to defeat this oppression. This talk included discussion on structural and institutional basis of Islamophobia and what is required to abolish Islamophobia. Some of student organizations represented during the discussion included UNC Monsoon, Queer Trans People of Color and Campus Y.

About MERI:
Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia is a network which stands and acts together against all forms of Islamophobia and racism. We are living in an environment in which the media and other forces are inciting prejudice and hatred against Islam and Muslims. This hate is being targeted against both Muslim individuals and entire groups perceived as Muslims. We understand 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.

About UNC Monsoon
Monsoon seeks to fight both the misrepresentation and underrepresentation of South Asia in mainstream media by producing original content that informs, entertains, and also fosters discussion. It provides a platform for South Asian voices to share real stories, revealing the immense diversity our community boasts.


Meredith College Forum on Racism and Islamophobia

Meredith College Hosts a Forum on Islamophobia and Racism

A forum titled “Race, Fear and Faith: A Conversation About ‪Racism‬ and ‪Islamophobia‬” was organized at Meredith College on April 14, 2016. Rev. William J. Barber, II, President of North Carolina NAACP, provided a brilliant context of racism, Islamophobia, homophobia and other forms of oppression. Racism and “otherization” is essential for forces of hate and fear to ascend and maintain their power in a society that is changing ethnically, culturally and socio-economically. Rev. Barber emphasized the need for a Third Reconstruction and fusion politics to build a progressive society.

Other speakers included Mohamed AbuTaleb, Imam at Islamic Center of Raleigh, and Maryam Ahmed, member of Muslim Students Association at Meredith College. They offered important perspectives on how to respond to anti-Muslim bigotry. Rev. Nancy Petty, paster at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, gave opening statement, while Manzoor Cheema, founding member of MERI, gave closing statement. David Crabtree from WRAL TV moderated the event.

This event was organized by Islamophobia working group that includes members of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, Islamic Association of Raleigh, As-Salaam Islamic Center – Raleigh, Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East, Triangle Interfaith Alliance and Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC.

Workshop on Islamophobia:

MERI offers workshops on Islamophobia to members of faith-based, peace and justice, educational and non-profit organizations. Our workshops on Islamophobia offer one-on-one interaction on how to defeat Islamophobia. Our workshops have the following objectives:

– define Islamophobia
– place Islamophobia in a larger context of racialized oppression
– address common myths and assumptions about Islam and Muslims
– identify how we are unintentionally participating
– identify how we can interrupt our own and others’ participation
– clarify action steps

For more information about these workshops, your organization’s particular needs, pricing of our workshop or other questions, please contact us at info@MeriNC.org. We will welcome you to subscribe to our newsletter to learn about activities against Islamophobia and racism organized in North Carolina and beyond.

Islamophobia is bigotry and oppression (individual or institutional) against Islam, Muslims and people perceived as Muslims. The Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI) is a network of North Carolina-based organizations with a mission to end racism and Islamophobia. Our goal is to build a movement that challenges all forms of oppression. We work with folks and organizations from every background to uplift all marginalized voices. Since we launched this network in early 2015, we have organized discussions and actions throughout North Carolina to defeat Islamophobia. Our partners include: Muslims for Social Justice
Jewish Voice for Peace - Triangle NC
Black Workers for Justice
AIME (Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East)
NC Justice Center
Methodist Federation for Social Action - NC Conference Chapter
Peace Committee of Chapel Hill Friends Meeting
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Balance and Accuracy in Journalism
Peace and Justice Committee of the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist
The Orange County Peace Coalition
The Salam Shalom Committee of the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill
Quaker House (Fayetteville)
MAPAC (Muslims American Public Affairs Council)
Stop Torture Now. Check us on our website at: https://merinc.org

Islamophobia is bigotry and oppression (individual or institutional) against Islam, Muslims and people perceived as Muslims. The Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI) is a network of North Carolina-based organizations with a mission to end racism and Islamophobia. Our goal is to build a movement that challenges all forms of oppression. We work with folks and organizations from every background to uplift all marginalized voices. Since we launched this network in early 2015, we have organized discussions and actions throughout North Carolina to defeat Islamophobia. Our partners include: Muslims for Social Justice
Jewish Voice for Peace - Triangle NC
Black Workers for Justice
AIME (Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East)
NC Justice Center
Methodist Federation for Social Action - NC Conference Chapter
Peace Committee of Chapel Hill Friends Meeting
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Balance and Accuracy in Journalism
Peace and Justice Committee of the Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist
The Orange County Peace Coalition
The Salam Shalom Committee of the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill
Quaker House (Fayetteville)
MAPAC (Muslims American Public Affairs Council)
Stop Torture Now. Check us on our website at: https://merinc.org

Conference Explores Racism and White Privilege

Methodist Social Action Conference on Racism and White Privilege

We are witnessing a heightened awareness of racism in the recent years, especially with the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The nation is also witnessing a dramatic rise in bigotry against Muslims. Methodist Federation for Social Action – North Carolina Conference Chapter (MFSA-NCC) organized a conference titled “Dare to Hear: An Honest Conversation about Race and the End to White Privilege” in order to confront the issues of racism and Islamophobia. This conference took place on April 9, 2016, at Duke United Memorial Methodist Church in Durham. This conference was part of a conference series in the memory of the late Rev. Jack Crum who dedicated his life to the cause of social justice.

This conference featured speeches and workshops on the topic of racism, white privilege and Islamophobia. This conference explored the themes of challenging white privilege, reparations versus reconciliation, and Islamophobia as a form of racialized oppression. Some of the speakers included Rev. Chris Brady (Pastor at Wilson Temple United Methodist Church), Professor Jennifer Harvey (Professor of Religion Studies at Drake University), Rev. Leonard Fairley (Lead Pastor at St. Francis UMC in Cary) and Manzoor Cheema (Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia).


The North Carolina Conference chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action has been around since the 1980s. We worker such initiatives as open pulpits i.e. churches should open to receive a pastor regardless of race or gender as long as they have the graces to that congregation and issues of peace and social justice.

In 2008 we came up with the idea of hosting a conference that promote prophetic ministry in the conference and we named in honor of Reverend Jack Crum who fought against segregation in spite of the cost. The first Jack Crum Conference on Prophetic Ministry was held at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill. Topics have included school diversity, child poverty, voting rights, and Amendment One.

Also we work closely with Reconciling United Methodists and Friends NC to promote full inclusion of LGBT persons and the life and ministry of The United Methodist Church.


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Triangle Community Members Walk for Racial Justice

Race Forward: On the Move for Racial Justice

Anti-racism walk and rally titled “Race Forward: On the Move for Racial Justice” was organized in downtown Durham on April 9, 2016. This event featured art, music and activities to challenge racism and other forms of oppression. Manzoor Cheema from MERI spoke about Islamophobia and its connection to anti-Black racism.

The following is an announcement about the event by its organizers:

Downtown Durham will come alive with runners, walkers, musicians and community activists showing their commitment to racial justice on Saturday, April 9, during the 5K Race Forward run/solidarity walk sponsored by Infinity Diamond Club’s We Are 1 Conference. The goal of the walk is to show a commitment to racial justice and to raise funds for Infinity Diamond Club a local non-profit dedicated to the work of inclusion & Organizing Against Racism (OAR-NC) a Triangle based organization dedicated to equality.

Partnering with E.K. Powe Elementary, the race’s course will wind its way through Old West Durham, Walltown and Trinity Park, circling Duke East Campus and guiding runners and walkers through areas of the city tied to its racial history.

What will it take to achieve racial justice and
reconciliation in our communities?

Racism continues to shape the outcomes of all institutions. What will you do about it? We believe that if we all work together, we can make a difference. We are stronger together.

Here’s a chance to take action, meet people pressing for positive change, and learn more about building an effective movement for social transformation with full accountability.

To create real racial equity, we must deconstruct historical, cultural and institutional racism and build something new in its place. Come create an anti-racist reconciled world where all people are valued and systems of power, privilege and access are equitable. Be part of the solution and join us as we Race Forward.

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Launch of Moral Revolution of Values

“Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values” tour

On April 4, 2016, an event called Time for a Moral Revolution of Values was organized at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, NC. This event included testimonies of attacks on education, healthcare, immigrants, workers, LGBTQ community members, Muslims and voters. The following are reports from this tour.

NC NAACP Press Release:
In light of the repeated misrepresentation of so-called “evangelism” in the public square, and the lewd amounts of money and political energy being spent to hijack the democratic process, Rev. Dr. William Barber and Rev. Dr. James Forbes, Senior Minister Emeritus of the Riverside Church in NYC, and their many friends in the social justice clergy community who have agreed to join them, have been called to seek a moral awakening and a Third Reconstruction in America. They are beginning a tour of Revivals across the nation and on April 4th, the Revival is coming to North Carolina.

From Daily Kos on 4/3/16:
Today is the kickoff day for the launch of “The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values”, a national revival tour to redefine morality in American politics.

The event is being held at Riverside Church in New York City at 3PM and will be live-streamed.

Rev. William Barber II, Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr, Rev. Traci Blackmon, and Sister Simone Campbell are spearheading the tour, which, on the first leg will engage people in 15 states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, and Washington DC.

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, architect of the transformative Moral Monday Movement and founder of Repairers of the Breach, Senior Pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church Disciples of Christ and the Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr, Senior Minister Emeritus of The Riverside Church, president of Healing of the Nations Ministries and National Minister for the Drum Major Institute, today announced the launch of The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution of Values that will champion the sacred values of love, justice, and mercy in the public square at a time when they are needed more than ever.

Reverends Barber and Forbes have been invited by local civil rights and moral leaders to come to their cities to conduct revival meetings and services. They will be joined by other national social justice activists who bring the same deep moral analysis of the nation’s problems including the Rev. Traci Blackmon, acting Executive Minister of the UCC’s Justice and Witness Ministries, and Sister Simone Campbell, Director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK in Washington, DC.

Sponsored by Repairers of the Breach, Healing of the Nations Ministries and Drum Major Institute, the tour starts at The Riverside Church in New York City on Sunday, April 3 at 3:00 p.m. EST. It will hold meetings and services in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Ohio, Oklahoma and Virginia through December of 2016 and continue on through 2017. The first Revival will be in Raleigh, NC on Monday, April 4, the anniversary of Dr. King’s historic sermon at Riverside —“A Time to Break the Silence”—in 1967, and his assassination in Memphis one year later—just 48 years ago.

The April 4th event in Raleigh is being held on the anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 at Temple Beth Or, at 6:30 PM.

The revolution tour is coming — get on board!

Source: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/4/3/1509760/-Call-for-a-Moral-Revolution-of-Values

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#BlackLivesMatter QTPOC Lead Fight Against House Bill 2

#BlackLivesMatter Queer Trans People of Color Coalition Lead Movement Against House Bill 2

North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2 that was signed into law by Governor McCrory on March 23, 2016. This law legalizes discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming community members. In addition to transphobia, House Bill 2 robs municipal powers for increasing minimum wage, preventing racist housing and other local measures. #BlackLivesMatter Queer Trans People of Color Coalition is leading a movement to fight this bill. A protest was organized by the coalition in front of Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh on March 24, 2016. The following is a statement (co-signed by MERI) and pictures from the protest.


On the anniversary of the passing of Blake Brockington, a Black trans teen from Charlotte, North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly moved to attack working people and create dangerous conditions for women, LGBTQ people, black and brown people, and any workers who experience discrimination or who struggle to make ends meet.

The General Assembly and Governor McCrory chose to criminalize trans and gender nonconforming children and youth, and to scapegoat trans women and other trans people for rape by passing NC HB 2. House Bill 2 bars city and county governments from raising their municipal minimum wage, as well as prohibits anti-discrimination policies that account for gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation. Lawmakers were given only 5 minutes to review the bill and it passed within a 12 hour period without a single trans person of color being allowed to speak.
This bill reinforces the school to prison pipeline that trans and gender non-conforming students of color already face by making their choice of toilet grounds for suspension or arrest.
This bill rolls back decades of hard-won progress, and will harm our whole state. It undermines municipal democratic control, advancements in anti-discrimination policy, and further prohibits wage increases. This is a direct assault on working families and particularly working women of color who are most likely to be paid poverty wages. LGBTQ folks of color are workers, and we are worth more!

This bill uses trans panic and the scapegoating of trans women to derail real conversations about safety and consent. Trans and queer people are survivors of sexual assault, too. Our safety matters and we don’t make our community safer by threatening others with the brute force of the murderous police or incarceration. If our state is truly concerned for survivors of sexual assault, it will make comprehensive consent and sex education mandatory. This law does nothing to prevent indecent exposure and sexual assault, which are already illegal, but instead prevents local governments from protecting the safety and livelihoods of queer and trans people.

We honor and fight for Blake by affirming that our lives matter. Anti-transgender bias and legislation and persistent structural racism directly impact the devastating rates of suicidality, unemployment, physical and sexual violence, poverty, incarceration and homelessness experienced by transgender people of color.

Trans and Queer people of color demand a living wage and freedom from criminalization and discrimination, in the workplace and in the bathroom.

Tonight, we are calling for a Special Session of the People outside of the Governor’s mansion. For Blake Brockington, for Angel Elisha Walker, for all Black and Brown trans and queer people in North Carolina who have been murdered, disappeared, or incarcerated, it is our duty to speak. It is our duty to demand freedom, to demand a living wage, to demand education, to demand comprehensive health care that is accessible and free of charge.

QPOCC, The Tribe, #BlackLivesMatter North Carolina, Sister Song, Ignite NC, Southern Vision Alliance, Youth Organizing Institute, #BlackLivesMatter Gate City, Workers World Party, SONG NC, Greensboro Mural Project, GenderBenders, Fight for $15, QORDS, Trans Pride in Action, Queer Youth Circus, House daLorde, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI-NC), SAFE Coalition NC, LGBTQ Center of Durham, Center for Family and Maternal Wellness


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National Lawyers Guild Conference Hosts Talk on Islamophobia

Islamophobia talk hosted by NLG Southern Regional Conference

National Lawyers Guild Southern Regional Conference hosted a panel titled “Combating the New Wave of Islamophobia and Xenophobia in the South” on March 19, 2016. This conference was organized at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Panelists included Azadeh Shahsahahani (legal and advocacy director of Project South), Dani Moore (NC Justice Center), Manzoor Cheema (MERI and Muslims for Social Justice), Zaid Kuseybi (Greensboro, NC, based activist). The panel was moderated by Ajamu Dillahunt, founding member of Black Workers for Justice. This panel explored Islamophobia and anti-immigrant assaults, connection between Islamophobia and anti-Black racism, and how to build a movement against Islamophobia and other forms of oppression.

About National Lawyers Guild:
“Our aim is to bring together all those who recognize the importance of safeguarding and extending the rights of workers, women, LGBTQ people, farmers, people with disabilities and people of color, upon whom the welfare of the entire nation depends; who seek actively to eliminate racism; who work to maintain and protect our civil rights and liberties in the face of persistent attacks upon them; and who look upon the law as an instrument for the protection of the people, rather than for their repression.”

Learn more at:




Islamophobia Talk Hosted by Durham People’s Alliance

Durham People’s Alliance Hosts a talk on Islamophobia

A talk titled “Challenging Racism and Islamophobia” was organized by Durham-based People’s Alliance on March 10, 2016. Manzoor Cheema from MERI (Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia) spoke at the event. This event explored roots of Islamophobia, how Islamophobia is connected to racism and other forms of oppressions, and how allies can build a movement against this oppressions.

Learn more about Durham People’s Alliance:
What we want our community to be like:
A community can be more than a place where people live. It can be a place where people live well. We are committed to a community where all basic needs are met and each individual has the opportunity for a life of accomplishment, dignity and pride.
We envision our community, from local to global, as one which follows these principles:
Community Guarantee of Basic Needs
Our economy will provide full employment in safe workplace. In our community there will be affordable housing, health care, public transportation, quality childcare and education for our children, nutritious food available at reasonable prices, and recreational and cultural opportunities open to all. The cost of providing for basic needs will be distributed fairly within the community.
Celebration of Diversity
Our community will be a place where the perspectives of diverse groups such as different races, economic classes, genders, religious perspectives, sexual orientation, ages, and abilities, are respected. There will be an atmosphere of tolerance, good humor, and recognition of diverse cultural values.
Our economy will encourage local self-sufficiency through the use of renewable resources of both energy and goods. We will maintain clean air, water and a variety of natural environments.
Local Decision-Making
Citizens will participate in democratic decision-making within our neighborhoods and community. People affected by decisions will play a major role in those decisions.
Source: http://www.durhampa.org/vision_statement


Allies Organize to End Torture

North Carolinians Rally to End Torture

North Carolina Stop Torture Now organized an event to highlight North Carolina’s role in aiding torture through a practice called extraordinary rendition. This event was organized outside North Carolina Governor’s Mansion in downtown Raleigh on March 9, 2016. Members of North Carolina Council of Churches, UNC Law School, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, Code Pink – North Carolina and other organizations spoke at the event.

The Convention Against Torture states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Sending a person to a country where it is known they will be tortured – a practice known as extraordinary rendition – is also illegal under international law.

Learn about North Carolina Stop Torture Now:

North Carolina Stop Torture Now is a grassroots coalition of individuals representing themselves and—through their involvement and witness to neighbors—a diversity of faith, human rights, peace, veteran, and student groups across the state.

We aim to stop torture everywhere, and have worked since 2005 to expose and end North Carolina’s central role in the ongoing U.S. torture program.

Source: http://ncstn.org/content/about/

Here are pictures from the event.

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Vigil and March for “Our Three Brothers”

A Vigil for Three Black Muslims murdered execution-style in Indiana

On Feb 24th, Taha Omar, Adam Mekki, and Muhammad Tairab, Sudanese-Americans from a predominately Muslim community, were murdered “execution-style” in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There was little media coverage or outcry of community support for the horrible crime committed against these young black men. The media quickly painted a “black thug” narrative and at least one University’s MSA canceled a scheduled vigil for the young men.

As a response, a vigil and march was organized in the memory of “Our Three Brothers” by Black, People of Color and Muslim organizers in Durham, NC on March 8, 2016. The march started at Ibad Ar-Rahman Masjid on Fayetteville Rd and marched to North Carolina Central University. Participants held banners and chanted slogans in protest of anti-black racism and islamophobia. The march was supported by residents, passers-by and students, mostly Black and People of Color.

Learn more about this tragedy here:

#OurThreeBrothers – Mourning the Loss of Three Innocent Lives

““There is definitely a reason why my cousins and friend are not getting as much media coverage, and it is because they were black,” Dahab says, in an exclusive interview. “There is discrimination in the Islamic community on who is really a legitimate Muslim and there is a belief that if you are not from the Middle East, you are not as Islamic as someone from Saudi Arabia for example,” he continues.”

#OurThreeBrothers – Do You See Us Black Muslims Now

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