About 200 demonstrators marched through downtown Boston Wednesday night to show solidarity with Muslims and protest what they described as heightened surveillance and profiling of the Islamic community.
The march, organized by the advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston, was one of 25 such demonstrations nationwide, organizers said.
People gathered at the top of Boston Common across from the State House around 5 p.m., many holding signs that read “Jews Against Islamophobia and Racism.”
Standing in front of a “We Will Resist” banner, activists urged the crowd to speak out against anti-Muslim bigotry, as well as hard-line immigration policies.
Organizers also voiced support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Syrian refugees, and the Palestinian quest for statehood.
Melissa Nussbaum, a local performer and activist, told the crowd that Judaism teaches values such as right action and “zero tolerance for any oppression.”
“I think that’s the tolerance we have, right?”
“Yeah,” many in the crowd shouted in response.
Leora Abelson, a Jewish Voice for Peace organizer, said the upcoming Hanukkah observance has “always been about resistance” and a commitment to justice.
Love, she added, “will help us to heal this broken world.”
In a statement, organizers drew a connection between a climate of anti-Muslim hostility and the election of Donald Trump, who called during the campaign for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.
“We are protesting existing policies like heightened surveillance and policing of Muslims and other communities of color, and the racist climate fostered by President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric and his deeply disturbing Cabinet appointees such as [chief strategist] Steve Bannon,” the statement said.
Richard Colbath-Hess, an organizer with Jewish Voice for Peace, appealed to a sense of unity to fight prejudice.
“My father survived the Holocaust and because of his stories, I learned as young child that a society can turn on its most vulnerable citizens, and it is our job to stand up and say no,” Colbath-Hess said in the statement. “Now is the time that we need to stand with our Muslim friends and neighbors.”
Before the march began, Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, the longtime leader of the Mosque for the Praising of Allah in Roxbury, told demonstrators that their advocacy should not be limited to Muslims.
“We have to be concerned for all people,” he said, adding that the prophet Mohammed teaches followers to speak out against wrongdoing.
“Continue this message of peace for all people,” he said. “. . . Take this word to the people, that we can overcome. Say it!”
“We can overcome,” the crowd responded.
After the speeches, demonstrators began marching toward Park Street station, chanting “Muslim Rights Are Human Rights” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Islamophobia has got to go.”
At Park Street, organizers lit a candle and called on the crowd to continue their support for Muslims and social justice.
The crowd made additional stops in and around Downtown Crossing before dispersing.
They chanted “Stop Profiling Muslims” and “What do we do when we’re under attack? Stand up, fight back!”
Mona Abdo, 24, a Muslim living in Boston, said during brief remarks that people of her faith are fearful in the wake of the presidential election.
At the same time, Abdo said, she was encouraged by the turnout for Wednesday’s march and the expressions of solidarity.
“You all give me hope for the future,” she said. “Thank you.”