“We are the 99%!”
“Tell me, what does democracy look like? –This is what democracy looks like!”
“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!”
These were just a few of the frustrations and outcries heard on October 15, 2011, the national day of Wall Street protests occurring in, of all places, Irvine of conservative Orange County.
My family and I had all planned to make an effort to attend the Occupy Irvine protest and join the Occupy Wall Street movement that had begun in New York.
We were all joking about how conservative Orange County would probably not have as big of a turnout as Los Angeles would have, so we decided that Irvine might need our presence more than Los Angeles.
Thus, we spent our Saturday protesting against Wall Street in Irvine, in solidarity with the rest of the nation’s 99%.
We were surprised to find the protest packed. The crowd was very diverse and various different kinds of signs could be seen, from “I am 17—what is my future going to cost me?” to “I am an Afghan child, please stop dropping bombs on me.”
But, some people were missing… Where were my Muslim brothers and sisters at?
Martin Luther King, Jr. had said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it and he who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Are we, as Muslim Americans, not part of the 99%? Are we not against the rise seen in our tuition prices? Are we not against the war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Are we not also the 99% who have been left unemployed or under-covered in our health insurance? Are we not against the injustice that is happening to the majority of people in America?
As Malcolm X so intelligently said, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
If we want change, we must act. If we want our public education to be free again, we must protest against the rise in education tuition. If we want our troops back home, we must protest against the wars overseas.
If we want jobs, we must protest. We must protest against the unfairness that Wall Street has been conniving against the 99% Americans.
As the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, taught us: “He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue by seeking out against it, and if he has not strength enough to do it, even then he should abhor it from his heart by always disliking what is evil or harmful, and that is the least of faith” (Muslim).
It is time for us to strengthen our faiths by becoming involved and uniting with the 99% to speak out against the injustice and corruption that Wall Street is doing against us.
All photos taken by Nadia Afredi at the Occupy Irvine protest on October 15, 2011.