Media Coverage of MERI

Letters-to-the-editor, articles and media responses by MERI members and partners:

– Munir Abdul Hakim: Racism and Militarism. The Herald-Sun. May 4, 2018.
– Doha Medani: Budd Fails to Grasp Roots of Mass Killing. Greensboro News and Record. May 3, 2018.
– Manzoor Cheema: Protest Ban. The News and Observer. April 26, 2018.
– Munir Abdul Hakim (James Perry): Challenge Discrimination. The News and Observer. January 19, 2018.
-Manzoor Cheema: Travel Ban “Anti-Muslim“. The News and Observer. October 22, 2017.
– Sandra Korn: Stand Together Against “Muslim Ban”. The Charlotte Observer. October 5, 2017.
– Azadeh Shahshahani and Manzoor Cheema: Let’s Fund Healthcare – Not Deadly Immigration Detention Centers. Huffington Post. September 21, 2017.
– Sandra Korn: How the Displaced Must Feel. The Herald-Sun. July 18, 2017.
– Beth Bruch: Call for Death of All Muslims Cannot be Tolerated. The News and Observer. July 16, 2017.
– Manzoor Cheema: Act Against the Anti-Muslim Group AC T for America. The News and Observer. June 7, 2017.
– Sarah Cross: We All Must Condemn Bigotry and Threats. Greensboro News and Record.March 20, 2017.
– Jillian Riley: Response to White Terrorism. The Herald-Sun. March 5, 2017.
– Manzoor Cheema: Forces of Peace and Justice Respond to KKK Rally. Imagine 2050. December 16, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: Conquering Hate with Love. Imagine 2050. October 25, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: Anti-Muslim speaker Diane West heads to Chapel Hill. Imagine 2050. October 17, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema and Rev. Nancy Petty: Standing up against bigotry. The News and Observer. October 3, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: The disturbing politics of Islamophobia in 2016 America. NC Policy Watch. September 6, 2016.
Also published by the Jefferson Post, Carolina Mercury and Lincoln-Times News.
– Sandra Korn: Glass houses, stones and ‘step up’ calls. Fayetteville Observer. August 11, 2016.
– Beth Bruch: An Exceptional Leader. The Herald Sun. August 2, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: We need to work against gun violence without promoting Islamophobia. The News and Observer. July 29, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: From Mourning to Organizing for Justice. Imagine 2050. July 25, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: Legislating Hate in North Carolina. Imagine 2050. July 10, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: Acting Against Gun Violence Without Resorting to Islamophobia. June 28, 2016.
– Salma Mirza: A Queer Muslim Responds to the Orlando Shootings. The News and Observer. June 17, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: Will Ali United a Divided Community? The Huffington Post. June 15, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: Can We Remember Refugees on Memorial Day? The Huffington Post. May 31, 2016.
– Manzoor Cheema: North Carolina Community Takes on Anti-Muslim Activist. The Huffington Post. May 27, 2016.
Mel Norton: The Power of Names – Islamophobia. The News and Observer. December 17, 2015.
Henry Jarrett: The Power of Example. The News and Observer. December 7, 2015.
McRory’s Stance on Syrian Refugees Makes Bad Situation Worse. The News and Observer. November 17, 2015.

– Manzoor Cheema: Much Needed Perspective. The Herald-Sun. November 6, 2015.
– Noah Rubin-Blose and Beth Bruch: Jews should resist racism from North Carolina to Palestine. The Herald-Sun, October 30, 2015. (Read JVP-Triangle original statement here)
– Miriam Thompson: Beyond Speeches. The News and Observer. August 15, 2015.
– Manzoor Cheema: Against Vouchers. The News and Observer. August 6, 2015.
– Manzoor Cheema: Challenging Islamophobia at UNC Chapel Hill. Orange Politics. April 26, 2015.
– Manzoor Cheema: Speech was Harmful in Wake of Murders. The Daily Tarheel. April 15, 2015.
– Jade Brooks – Islamophobia Must End. The News and Observer. January 27, 2015.


MERI Members in the Media:

Protests Over Immigration Planned Across the Country Saturday, Including in NC. The News and Observer. June 26, 2018.
Excerpt: “Manzoor Cheema, one of the founders of Muslims for Social Justice, called the Supreme Court’s decision an attack on people of color.
“This country was founded (by) people escaping religious persecution, violence, economic hardship,” Cheema said. “(They) found refuge in this country. But if they happen to be black, brown and Muslim somehow they become illegal human beings.“”

Durham Jews Honor Our Ancestors by Rejecting Racism. The Herald-Sun. April 13, 2018.
Excerpt: “Seventy-five years ago, our people, Ashkenazi Jews, were ethnically cleansed from Eastern Europe. Now, as white Jews in the United States, we benefit from white supremacy and recognize we live on land stolen through genocide. Durham rests on the land of the Eno and of the Occaneechee Band of the Saponi Nation.

In honor of our ancestors, we are proud to be part of the Demilitarize! Durham2Palestine campaign to end the deadly exchanges between U.S. law enforcement and Israeli security forces. This campaign is part of a larger project of challenging state violence and discrimination in both countries.”

Group in NC Fight Islamophobia With Education. July 10, 2017.
Excerpt: “With incidences of violence against Muslims occurring in some parts of the country, some North Carolina groups have decided to fight the trend with knowledge. 
One such group is United Electrical Workers Local 150. The union is starting in the workplace, educating employers and co-workers about the Islamic community and offering tips for showing respect to members of the Muslim faith.
UE President Nathanette Mayo says it’s a natural fit for a union that already champions workplace rights and social justice issues for public service workers.”

Anti-Sharia Rally is Met With Counterprotest at the State Capitol. The News and Observer. June 10, 2017.
Excerpt: “A social justice group is demanding the release of Mosa Hamadeesa, a Palestinian from the West Bank who faces deportation after federal immigration officials arrested him outside his Raleigh home last week.
Muslims for Social Justice, a North Carolina group, will gather in front of the Wake County Justice Center in downtown Raleigh at 3 p.m. Wednesday to support Hamadeesa.
“Public pressure is the only way things are going to change,” said Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of Muslims for Social Justice, a North Carolina group. “We want to make it more public and shed a light on this, but we also want people to know that it’s not just one case – this is happening to many people.””

Anti-Sharia Marchers will be Two Blocks away from Anti-Islamophobia Rally Saturday. The News and Observer. June 9, 2017.
Excerpt: “Supporters of an organization considered by some to be extremist and anti-Muslim plan to march Saturday morning in downtown Raleigh, while a second group of marchers demonstrates against Islamophobia nearby.
The “March Against Sharia” is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the North Carolina State Capitol, and is being organized by ACT for America. The Raleigh ACT march is one of more than two dozen scheduled across the country.
Two blocks away at the same time on Halifax Mall, a counter-rally will be held. The North Carolina-based Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia is holding the counterprotest because “all people have the right to live in dignity, without fear of violence,” it said in a release.”

June 10: Rally in Raleigh Against Islamophobia and Racism. Spectacular Magazine. June 9, 2017.
Excerpt: “Hundreds of North Carolinians plan to rally 10AM Saturday at Halifax Mall in Raleigh at the United Against Islamophobia and Racism rally; uniting Muslim organizations and community allies against Islamophobia, racism, and white nationalism emboldened by Trump’s administration.
The counter-rally is organized by local activist groups, Muslims for Social Justice, Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, and North Carolina Asian Americans Together. It takes place during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, a time of spirituality, contemplation, and celebration for Muslims.
The United Against Islamophobia and Racism rally will take place at the same time as an anti-Muslim gathering at the State Capitol in Raleigh, part of a national action organized by “ACT for America” in 27 cities across the country. Considered an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, ACT for America targets Muslim communities and demonizes Islam as a fear mongering tactic. Its founding member, Brigitte Gabriel, was quoted as saying that Islam is “a natural threat to the civilized people of the world.””

Durham Teacher Gives Kids A Little Faith. The Herald-Sun. June 9, 2017.
Excerpt: “In Kernersville, the FBI is investigating anti-Muslim activists who held a meeting this winter where they discussed doing violence against those practicing Islam. One week in February, the Lerner Jewish Community Day School in Durham was one of 11 Jewish community centers across the nation to receive bomb threats in a wave of anti-Semitism. Just two years ago in Chapel Hill, a local man killed his three Muslim neighbors in what many have called a hate crime. In parts of the U.S. and North Carolina, fear reigns and religious hate-crimes have spiked.
It’s not only teachers like Annie Harrison who are trying to do something about it. Groups like the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI-NC) and N.C. United for Refugees and Immigrants have been holding educational and advocacy events across North Carolina.”

Father of Nine-Year-Old Being Treated at Duke for Rare Tumor Faces Deportation. The Herald-Sun. June 7, 2017.
Excerpt: “A social justice group is demanding the release of Mosa Hamadeesa, a Palestinian from the West Bank who faces deportation after federal immigration officials arrested him outside his Raleigh home last week.
Muslims for Social Justice, a North Carolina group, will gather in front of the Wake County Justice Center in downtown Raleigh at 3 p.m. Wednesday to support Hamadeesa.
“Public pressure is the only way things are going to change,” said Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of Muslims for Social Justice, a North Carolina group. “We want to make it more public and shed a light on this, but we also want people to know that it’s not just one case – this is happening to many people.””

Defining Sanctuary Cities – And Why That Definition Must Expand. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. May 3, 2017.
Excerpt: “One clear example is the dozens of state bills introduced in recent years to prevent the fabricated threat of “Sharia law,” a set of Islamic codes guiding moral practice, from being implemented in U.S. courts. Anti-Muslim hate groups claimed that radical Muslims aimed to take over the justice system, but the bills’ originator, attorney David Yerushalmi, suggested an ulterior motive: “If this thing passed in every state without any friction, it would not have served its purpose.” It needed to attract controversy to render Muslims more suspect in the public eye. Notably, as Muslim Anti-Racism Organizer Manzoor Cheema explains, “80 percent of these laws were introduced by legislators that also introduced anti-gay marriage laws, anti-abortion laws, voter suppression laws, anti-immigrant laws, and right-to-work (anti-union) laws.”
Similarly, North Carolina’s infamous anti-transgender bathroom bill of 2016, HB2, also included provisions that revoke workplace discrimination protections based on race, religion, sex, and age. HB2 was a profoundly intersectional bill, raising to light how justifying oppression against one community opens the doors for oppression against all people treated as “other.””

Building Communities Rooted in Justice. The Huffington Post. April 11, 2017.
Excerpt: “As a member of JVP’s Network Against Islamophobia (NAI), I went to two productive workshops on challenging Islamophobia facilitated by chapter leaders from New Haven, Boston, Chicago, Portland, and Triangle-NC. Some chapters are engaging in community education with the NAI curricula and resources and are canvassing with posters in different neighborhood stores with messages like “Standing with Muslims Against Islamophobia and Racism,” “Stop Profiling Muslims,” and “We Stand with Our Muslim, Arab, and Immigrant Neighbors.” Others are insisting that Jewish organizations stop funding Islamophobia, such as in Chicago, where the JVP chapter is spearheading a defunding campaign targeting the Jewish United Fund, the funding arm of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. And many are participating in coalitions like the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia in North Carolina and others that are rooted in the leadership of Muslim and other targeted communities.
Critical to NAI’s work is making deep connections among Islamophobia, the so-called “war on terror,” and Israeli apartheid. JVP Chicago chapter and NAI leader, Lesley Williams, who skillfully moderated the panel on “How Palestine Liberation and Challenging Islamophobia are Inseparable,” opened by stressing that “Islamophobia is not just a side issue in our fight for Palestinian liberation but is deeply imbedded and a key aspect of fighting for Palestinian liberation.” Human rights attorney and public defender Bina Ahmad, who has helped to guide NAI’s work, further articulated this issue when she spoke about Islamophobia having long-standing roots. She said: “Islamophobia is so core to what is happening. It’s the oil that gets this larger war machine going. It’s really about “othering” Muslims in order to facilitate not only supporting Israel but also to support imperialism and US wars.””

Why Popular Assemblies Sweeping the Country Are Building Blocks of the Resistance. AlterNet. March 1, 2017.
Excerpt: “Cheema is one of countless organizers across the country working to pull off large popular assemblies to empower and connect the communities caught in the crosshairs of this multi-pronged assault … For Cheema, whose organizing of People’s Movement Assemblies (PMAs) is informed by Project South, it is critical to create meaningful spaces that center people most impacted by oppression and injustice—an aim that takes significant leg work. He noted that local PMAs date back to the early 1980s, with the group Black Workers for Justice laying the groundwork for the processes in motion today.” 
KKK Parade Sparks Counterprotests Across North Carolina. The Daily Tarheel. December 5, 2016.
Excerpt: “Manzoor Cheema, another spokesperson for the coalition, said they wanted to unite people from all backgrounds.“This rally is led by black, brown, workers, Muslims, immigrants, basically,” he said. “And we were very particular about that because we believe the most impacted communities … should lead the movement.””
Counter Protests Swamp KKK Celebration in North Carolina. The American Prospect. December 5, 2016.
Excerpt: “The largest of the gatherings was in Raleigh, where about 1,000 people, many of them young, listened to calls for a unified response to attacks on racial and religious minorities, which have spiked since Trump’s candidacy and election. “White supremacy is not just the KKK,” said Saba Taj, an organizer with Durham Artists Movement, a collective that fuses art and activism. “On November 8, our state, our country, our system elected white supremacy. They’re not just wearing white hoods. They’re wearing suits and badges and setting up in our government.””
KKK Celebrates Trump Victory with Brazen Parade. The National. December 4, 2016.
Excerpt: “Our goal is to build a long-term movement to fight back against the racist policies, the policies that impact workers, that may impact immigrants, that may impact Muslims and that may cause more wars abroad,” he (Manzoor) said.”
KKK Supporters Give Nazi Salute at NC Rally in Support of Donald Trump. The Telegraph. December 3, 2016.
Excerpt: “Manzoor Cheema, founder of the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, said the election had energised social justice groups to join forces and fight a growing tide of intolerance.”
Triangle Grassroots Organizations Hold “Rally Against Hate”. WRAL. December 3, 2016.
Excerpt: “With the election being over, the elected next president is a man demonstrators said has stoked old prejudices, making the country hot with anger. Kim Koo of Rocky Mount said that makes it all the more important for people like her to assemble.
“We are not as powerless as everybody thinks we are. If we get together like what we’re doing today, we can be a powerful force. That will change the country,” Koo said.
–  Klan Parade Drives Through Roxboro, Opponents Rally Across State. The News and Observer. December 3, 2016.
Excerpt: “More than a thousand people turned out on Moore Square during a rally denouncing hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at immigrants, Muslims, black people, LGBTQ people and women after the KKK’s Loyal White Knights of Pelham posted plans on the group’s website for a parade celebrating the election of Donald Trump.”
Rally Against KKK Held in Raleigh; KKK Members Drive Through Roxboro. ABC 11. December 3, 2016.
Excerpt: “”This ain’t no 1916 no more. It’s 2016! And that don’t scare us no more. But we have to have organization,” said Angaza Laughinghouse Jr., a speaker at the rally.”
Anti-Klan Rally on Moore Square. The News and Observer. December 3, 2016.
Muslim Americans Reassure Their Children and Prepare for a New Day. Yonat Shimron. Religion News Service. November 11, 2016.
Excerpt: “There was a denial among Muslims that Trump would be able to win,” said Manzoor Cheema, a Raleigh activist and coordinator for Muslims for Social Justice, a statewide group. “Now many Muslims are realizing their civic duty doesn’t end with voting.”
Speaker met with protesters decrying ‘hate speech’. Colin Warren-Hicks. The Herald Sun. October 18, 2016.

Excerpts: Abu-Salha (he lost two daughters and son-in-law in hate attack last year) issued the following statement late Tuesday: ‘I would have attended the protest but came home too late and tired. Diana West’s speeches in the name of freedom of speech, are one of the many reasons my children are dead.'”
“‘This week Extraordinary Ventures finds itself unfortunately caught in the middle of a political discussion. To be clear, does not in any way, shape or form condone racism or hate messages,’ Extraordinary Ventures managing director Paige Morrow said. ‘At the same time, as a business it cannot unilaterally cancel a contract without significant risk and consequences. The people of Extraordinary Ventures do apologize and promise to do a better job in the future vetting potential customers.'”

Feisty debate reveals wide differences between Cooper, McCrory. The News and Observer. October 11, 2016.
Excerpt: “Outside the studios, a coalition calling itself the Triangle May Day Unity coalition gathered to pressure McCrory and Cooper to improve their records on a variety of issues: addressing police violence, ending cooperation with federal immigration officials, welcoming Syrian refugees and establishing a $15-an-hour minimum wage and collective bargaining.”

Facing fear: The impact of Islamophobia. T. Michael Boddie. The Daily Gamecock. September 22, 2016.

Excerpt: “‘Islamophobia is a racialized system that oppresses Muslims and black and brown people locally and globally,’ [Noah] Rubin-Blose said, reading aloud a definition written by MERI. ‘Islamophobia operates through military operations abroad and sometimes state oppression at home. Islamophobia is exercised by U.S. and Western nations through economic, military, political and cultural means.'”

Excerpt: “Salma Mirza is a Bull City resident who identifies with both the LGBTQ and Muslim community, and she says she’s struggled facing discrimination for both those parts of her identity.
“The Muslim community really needs to struggle with homophobia and transphobia, but I think our society really needs to struggle with it,” Mirza said. “I think the push-back that I’ve gotten hasn’t just been from the Muslim community, it’s been from large society.””
Excerpt: “We are grateful to be fighting Islamophobia as a member of the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI), and we hope that our collective efforts, together, will lead to real safety and freedom here in NC and around the globe — for Muslims, Black people, immigrants, people of Color, indigenous people, Jews, LGBTQ people, and all people.”
Orange County Peace Activists Remember Refugees on Memorial Day. The News and Observer. May 30, 2016.
Excerpt: “Municipal leaders in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have voiced support for taking in Syrian refugees. Those positions are an inspiration for cities across the state, according to Manzoor Cheema, co-founder of Muslims For Social Justice and a member of the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia.”
Arab and Muslim Groups Protest Southwest Airlines Profiling at Stockholders Meeting. The Chicago Monitor. May 19, 2016.
Excerpt: “From North Carolina, Manzoor Cheema, a member of the Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia, made the connection between the protestors and the pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics picketing for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
Islamophobia is a product of a crisis in America where groups are marginalized and scapegoated to distract from labor issues and worker’s rights. It’s long been a “southern strategy” to divide labor and worker progressives. While Muslims are being kicked off planes, the corporation is abusing its workers. Merging these forces fighting against anti-Muslim profiling and for workers’ rights is important to achieve real change.”
Speakers to Address Divergent Views of Islam. The Pilot. May 10, 2016.
Excerpt: “Manzoor Cheema a Raleigh-based peace activist working against racism and oppression, expressed concern about Warner’s anticipated presentation. Cheema is a fellow at the Center for New Community and a coordinator of the Movement to End Racism [MERI].
“At MERI, our goal is to challenge bigotry and hatred against Muslims or those people that are perceived as Muslims. There are a lot of myths and presumptions that have been spread and that can lead into fear, hatred, violence, and even homicide against Muslims,” Cheema said.”
The Council Record. May 4, 2016.
Excerpt: “Manzoor Cheema from Muslims for Social Justice was next to speak, who argued that anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia are in large part a product of “anti-black racism in this country.” Cheema said he stood in solidarity with the black community in calling for improved police tactics and the need for a community oversight board.”
Excerpt: “About 50 businesses in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough have hung signs such as “Refugees are Welcome Here” and “Stop Profiling Muslims,” according to the Jewish Voices for Peace, the organization that has passed out the signs to businesses.
Barbara Williams of Blalock’s Barber Shop in Downtown Raleigh said she decided to join the discussion because growing up she was taught to never turn a blind eye to those in need.”
Voting Rights Take Center Stage at HKonJ. Technician. February 14, 2016.
Excerpts: “Fatima Zohra Hedadji, a senior studying interpersonal communication, said although she came to the rally to protest Islamophobia, there is power in students standing in solidarity with other causes.”
“Barakat compared their story to the story of Rosa Parks, the famous black civil rights activist who was arrested in 1955 for not giving up her seat on a bus for a white person.
“Today they tell me that Deah, Yusor and Razan were murdered because of an ongoing dispute over a parking space, as if Rosa Parks’ struggle was an ongoing dispute over a bus seat,” Barakat said.”
Excerpt: “Speakers at the rally in front of the N.C. Capital also talked about immigrant justice, women’s rights, Islamophobia, and more hot-button issues related to the vote.”
Passion in Practice: Muslims for Carolinas. Manzoor Cheema’s profile. February 11, 2016.
A Year After Slaying of Muslims, Community Seeks Dialogue, Harmony. The News and Observer. February 8, 2016.
Southern Mayors Rebuke Fear Mongers. People’s World. 12/08/16

Seven Ways Southerners Are Fighting Hate and Fear After Paris Attacks. Facing South (A Publication of Institute for Southern Studies). November 20, 2015.

– US Muslims Fear Backlash After Paris, But Not the Kind You Expect. November 16, 2015.

Forum to Address Perceptions of Islam. Fayetteville Observer. November 13, 2015.

– Cumberland County to Hold Forum that Examines Islam and Racism. Fayetteville Forum. November 9, 2015.

– Pro-Palestine Protesters Rally Against Israeli Occupation. The Herald-Sun. October 30, 2015.

– Confederate Flag Rally in Hillsborough Draws Crowd. ABC 11 Eyewitness News. August 8, 2015.

Racism and Islamophobia. Local and Global. NC Council of Churches. June 19, 2015.

– Durham Severs Ties with Security Firm G4S. The Herald-Sun. May 12, 2015.

– Muslim Activist: UNC Coalition Won’t Let Hate Prevail. Imagine 2050. May 1, 2015.

– Panelists Contextualize Islam in Wake of Recent Hostilities. Triad City Beat. March 4, 2015.

– Manzoor Cheema Aims to Change Perceptions of Islam. The News and Observer. February 21, 2015.

– Shooting Looms Over NC Moral March. Technician. February 16, 2015.

U.S. Gunman Kills Three Young Muslims; Motive Disputed. Thanhnien News (Vietnam). February 12, 2015.

Three Muslims Shot Dead Over Parking Dispute. Gulf Times (Qatar). February 12, 2015.

– Pasca Penembakan Tiga Mahasiswa, Umat Muslim Waspada. CNN Indonesia. February 12, 2015.

– Motif Pembunuhan 3 Muslim AS Terus Dilacak. Deutsche Welle. February 12, 2015.

US Muslim Student Deaths Spark Worldwide Outrage. VOA News. February 12, 2015.

– Criticism Mounts Over Western Media’s Indifference Towards North Carolina Massacre. Today’s Zaman (Turkey). February 12, 2015.

– US Gunman Kills Three Muslims; Motive Disputed. Reuters. February 12, 2015.

Muslim Trio Killed in North Carolina. Independent Online (South Africa). February 11, 2015.

– NC Minorities Remain Worried After Religion Bill is Pulled. The Washington Post. April 9, 2013.


Video Links:

Anti-Racism Rally at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (October 25, 2015):
Imam Khalid Griggs’ Keynote speech at Triangle Interfaith Alliance Annual Dinner on February 12, 2015: