Muhammad Sankari

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Muhammad Sankari

Freedom Road event

The 22nd, 2013 Annual People’s Thanksgiving Dinner, held in Chicago Dec. 8, honored her with the “Nelson Mandela Award: Opposing Israeli Apartheid is not a Crime.”

70 people gathered to recognize her and a number of other important activists. They met at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, despite an early blizzard that made getting to the church hazardous.

In presenting the award, Muhammad Sunkari of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network referred to the late leader of the national liberation movement in South Africa. “When Ted Koppel interviewed him after his release from prison, Mandela defended the ANC’s African National Congress ties to the Palestine Liberation Organization. He called the Palestinians, ‘comrades in arms.’ I would say that a great example of a comrade of Mandela is Rasmea Odeh.”

The event is held annually by Fight Back! News and Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! . The dinner raised over $3000 for Odeh’s defense campaign, as well as $1000 to help continue the work of Fight Back! news..[1]

AAAN Board

Arab American Action Network staff, as of 2016;[2]

"Day 8 in the Resistance"

Activists in Oak Park, a suburb of Chicago, rallied 400 people today, Feb. 4, 2017, to make their village a strong sanctuary. They urged the village trustees and mayor to keep their word and adopt a Welcoming Village Ordinance that would protect immigrants. The organizers opposed a previous proposal with deportation loopholes.

One of the endorsing groups, the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), called this “Day 8 in the Resistance to Trump's Executive Orders.”

The resistance movement began on Saturday, Jan. 28, as tens of thousands of protesters flooded airports all across the nation to protest the Trump administration's executive order signed the day before, which effectively banned all refugees, plus citizens from seven Arab, African, or Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Just days after the signing of executive orders going after sanctuary cities like Chicago, and expanding the wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico, 3000 protesters descended on the international terminal of O’Hare Airport, after confirmation by the International Rescue Committee that refugees and their families were detained there by the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol.

At a press conference before the protest, Hatem Abudayyeh, executive director of AAAN, stated, “The cruel irony in what is being called the ‘Muslim ban,’ in the freezing of all refugee resettlement, and in the blocking of visas for immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, is that the U.S. is either directly militarily engaged or has been threatening military engagement with every single one of these countries. We're dropping bombs or sending weapons and forcing people to flee their homes, and now we're saying that they can't flee here.”

The immediate demands of the coalition at O’Hare were bold and clear: the immediate release of all detainees and the rescinding of the executive orders, a call for Chicago to revise its Welcoming City ordinance to remove carve outs so as to protect all residents, and an end to police criminalization of Black people and other communities of color in Chicago.

The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression had organized its own press conference on Thursday, Jan. 26, a few days before the O’Hare upsurge. Because the struggle against Trump has to build on the struggle against police crimes, organizers including Michael Brunson, recording secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), pledged to continue pushing to pass the important Civilian Police Accountability Council ordinance at the Chicago city council level.

At that press conference, Muhammad Sankari of the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), said, “We will not allow Rahm Emanuel to use the immigrant community to wash the blood of Laquan, Rekia, Damo, and many more off his hands. Sanctuary means sanctuary for all residents of Chicago, including protecting the Black community from racist police.”

The first day of protest at O’Hare was followed on Sunday, Jan. 29, by another protest of 3000 people. Then on Wednesday, Feb. 1, AAAN organized a press conference protest at the Department of Homeland Security in downtown Chicago. Over 1000 people marched through the Loop to Federal Plaza.

In addition to the Arab American Action Network, leading and organizing the Trump resistance of the past week and a half in Chicago has been AnakBayan, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Black Lives Matter, Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Korean Resource and Cultural Center, National Immigrant Justice Center, Organized Communities Against Deportations, PASO - West Suburban Action Project, United African Organization and many others.[3]

Palestine visit

Members of the U.S Palestinian Community Network from Chicago (USPCN) reported, August 24 2018, on their summer delegation to Palestine. Bassem Kawar stated at the beginning of the event that their purpose was “to take our leading members and organizers to get a firsthand understanding of the occupation and the resistance on the ground.” They met with over 20 Palestinian organizations in the different “Fronts of Struggle,” which was the title of their talk.

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Muhammad Sankari opened by talking about the 6000 Palestinian political prisoners, and the occupation’s use of administrative detention. These prisoners are held under what is called “secret evidence” by a military court. “This policy is used to break the back of the Palestinian liberation movement,” explained Sankari.

Adameer is the organization that defends Palestinian prisoners, including the case of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old imprisoned after a video was released showing her slapping the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldier who had shot her cousin in the head with a rubber coated, metal bullet, causing severe damage to the boy’s skull.

Danya Zituni spoke about Jerusalem, “where we witnessed some of the most ugly faces of settler colonialism.” She said, “The apartheid wall is being used inside Jerusalem so that there are less Palestinians inside, and more and more Jewish only settlements,” and “The construction of the Jewish only settlements in Jerusalem in particular, and Palestine as a whole, is very strategic. They’re built on the edge of a village in order to encircle and isolate them, or they’re built in the middle of the village in order to fragment them. This policy makes a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.”

Bassem Kawar described a recent incident there. “We learned in our first day in Palestine that a family was welded shut into their home, and they had to dig under the wall of their home to get out. It was then turned into a military check point.”

Finally, Sankari spoke about the struggles inside 1948 Palestine, the area identified as Israel, where the Palestinian people have never given up on their struggle for a free Palestine, “From the river, to the sea.”Chicago delegation sees Palestinian resistance first handBy Joe Iosbaker | August 27, 2018]</ref>

“The right of return for all the Palestinians is a non-negotiable demand,” Sankari declared. He closed by listing the three principles that USPCN is guided by: “Self determination and national liberation for the Palestinian people; the end of Israeli colonization of all Palestinian and Arab land; and the right of return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their original homes and lands.”[4]
  1. US Palestinian Community Network, Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh given Nelson Mandela Award– DECEMBER 17, 2013
  2. [2]
  3. http://www.fightbacknews.org/2017/2/5/thousands-join-8-days-resistance-trump-s-executive-orders-chicago FB News, Thousands join ‘8 Days of Resistance’ to Trump’s executive orders in Chicago By staff | February 5, 2017]
  4. [http://www.fightbacknews.org/2018/8/27/chicago-delegation-sees-palestinian-resistance-first-hand FB News,

    References