What looked like a scene from the U.K, the local Muslim community in Nashville took to the streets on Friday July 18 in what has been described as an angry and intimidating pro Palestine demonstration. Led by local activist Drost Kokoye, Muslims lined the street screaming “not a nickel not a dime, we wont pay for U.S crimes” and “brick by brick, wall by wall Israeli apartheid has to fall”. But there seemed to be some deception and purposeful confusion by the group as some women dressed in full burqas held signs calling for peace, while others held signs stating stop funding Israel. As vehicles came to a stop at the traffic light, they were urged to honk if they wanted peace, but many were not aware it was a pro Palestine/Hamas protest so horns honked away.
Several passerby’s notified us that they felt the situation was a volatile one, with leader Kokoye shouting chants and the oddity of the majority of protestors dressed in Islamic garb, just as they did in the U.K, and France where pro Hamas/Palestine demonstrations have now been banned. So what really was the purpose of this demonstration?
It seems apparent this group wanted to make sure you knew they were Muslims. At 4:43pm, it just so happened the demonstration fell at the same time Asr ( late afternoon prayer) fell. A local Imam called the group to prayer as rush hour traffic slowed to a crawl to witness the group praying on a busy city street. Clearly this was to show the public they will pray wherever they wish. Ms. Kokoye’s boss, Remziya Suleyman of the American Center for Outreach approves of her activist friends motives, as this sent a chill down her spine.
It’s only a matter of time the City of Nashville may have decisions to make as well, as groups opposing pro Palestine, pro Hamas arise to counter Ms. Kokoyes community. Will Christian or Jewish groups be allowed to pray without interference or will permits be withheld? Did Ms. Kokoye’s group even have a permit to protest?
At least one positive came from this, the media that was invited to attend this spectacle didn’t show up. And no Ms. Kokoye, it wasn’t because of the rain.