April 2021

Protesting While Muslim: Before Kaepernick there was Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf

For many of us who are trying to move towards a more inclusive and open society for everyone, it is essential that we know the benefits and importance of protest. I want to highlight a significant figure within U.S. history whose protest we see continues on today.

In 2016, San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick decided to protest the National Anthem by not standing. His reasoning was in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement and against the killing of African Americans by the police. Although this was a controversial move, he received widespread support and praise for his actions from all over the nation and world. While corporate America and politicians such as Iowa Congressman Steve King who equated sitting during the National Anthem to a terrorist organization, “This is activism that’s sympathetic to ISIS.” Enduring the harsh words of our elected officials was just the beginning of the effects of Kaepernick’s protest. Unfortunately, his own employer the National Football League has treated him as a pariah. Even this current administration has waded into this issue, on the night of May 2nd, President Donald Trump said he’s the reason Colin Kaepernick hasn’t been signed yet, citing teams’ apparent fear of getting a nasty tweet from him afterwards. After having lead his team to the Super Bowl and NFC championships, he is now, as a free agent, unable to get a contract with any football teams. 20 years ago, almost to the day, another sports athlete, pro-basketball player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the National Anthem. His treatment has been a cautionary tale for our athletes.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, formerly Chris Jackson, embraced Islam in 1991 when he was a student at my alma mater Louisiana State University (LSU). Interestingly, this is also the school that basketball great Shaquille O’Neal graduated in 2000, so LSU was a feeder school for some of our most talented basketball players. Abdul-Rauf was signed as a star player for the Denver Nuggets, but he was also known for one of the most accurate free-throw shooting records ever. In early 1996 Abdul-Rauf had been trying to avoid controversy regarding the National Anthem by staying in the locker or facing away, finally he decided to stop standing for the anthem. His reasoning for not standing was the result of his becoming more politically aware of the national and global repercussions of US policies noting “the flag in many countries represents “oppression and tyranny.”

The National Basketball Association (NBA) swiftly took action against Abdul-Rauf, suspending him from the team. The suspension was lifted after 72 hours with Abdul-Rauf agreeing to stand with his hands in prayer. Although there was no rule about standing for the anthem, the NBA fined him, suspended him, and tried to end his career. The Nuggets traded him and he wasn’t picked up by any other NBA team. He moved around, playing internationally, but never getting another opportunity to play for the NBA in the US. Abdul-Rauf also received death threats and his house was destroyed due to his actions. These appear to be similar tactics being used against Kaepernick, but now that there is social media and other outlets support for his protest is better mobilized.

Abdul-Rauf has endured and to this day he repeats what he said when he was being faced with the loss of his career, wealth, and standing as an athlete, “I have no regrets. This is what I believed and I’m not wrong for the stance that I took.” He has read the works of Arundhati Roy, the Indian political activist and author, and her words encouraged and opened his eyes, “Once you see something, you can’t unsee it. So to be silent, to say nothing, is just as political an act of speaking out. Either way you’re accountable. So we’re not saved through our silence, actually, the politics of silence is a negative one, we’re still accountable.” Finally, Abdul-Rauf was recently speaking in Houston, TX about his life and career, something he does much more now that others are comparing Kaepernick’s activism to his, he notes that for him protesting doesn’t conflict with his Muslim faith, “You can’t be for God and for oppression.”

Other resources about Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf:

  1. http://www.what-happened-to-mahmoud-abdul-rauf.com/
  2. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  3. https://theundefeated.com/features/abdul-rauf-doesnt-regret-sitting-out-national-anthem/

Sources

  1. http://progressive.org/magazine/season-dissent/
  2. http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/roger-goodell-responds-to-president-trumps-colin-kaepernick-comments-032317
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Abdul-Rauf
  4. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  5. Ken Denlinger. “NBA lifts ban after anthem accord.” The Times-Picayune, March 15, 1996, A 1, A 10.
  6. https://www.thenation.com/article/mahmoud-abdul-rauf-the-nba-player-who-was-colin-kaepernick-twenty-years-before-colin-kaepernick/
  7. https://theundefeated.com/features/abdul-rauf-doesnt-regret-sitting-out-national-anthem/

​Poligon Celebrates the Passage of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

​Poligon Celebrates the Passage of the NO BAN Act in the House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement applauding the passage of the NO BAN Act (H.R. 1333) in the House of Representatives: 

Poligon celebrates the bipartisan passage of the H.R. 1333, the National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants (NO BAN) Act in the House of Representatives today, with a final vote count of 218-208. The legislation would prevent future Muslim bans and limit the President’s authority to suspend and restrict immigrants from entering the U.S. based on national origin or religious background. 

Our fight against the Muslim and African travel bans started in 2017 and continues to be an integral part of our advocacy efforts and policy priorities. While President Biden’s repeal of the Muslim Ban on Day One of his administration was a welcoming step, advancing the NO BAN Act in Congress and signing it into law would not only ensure future President’s cannot ban a marginalized community, but also begin to right the wrongs that have been inflicted on the immigrant community in the past 4 years.

As we uplift today’s win in the House, we look towards advancing the bill in the Senate and moving it to the President’s desk to be signed into law. We call on our community members, impacted families, and allies to join us and our coalition partners in securing the NO BAN Act’s passage. The bill’s advancement stopped in the Senate last year, and we cannot allow this to happen again. Tens of thousands of immigrants separated by the Muslim and African bans and Diversity Visa recipients face an unnecessary and cruel burden of having to re-apply for consideration. Immigrants’ lives continue to be at stake. We must make the NO BAN Act a reality and protect Muslim, African, and all marginalized immigrant communities for generations to come.

### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through training, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

​Poligon Demands Systemic Change and Transformative Justice After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2021
Contact: media@poligonnational.org

​Poligon Demands Systemic Change and Transformative Justice After Chauvin Guilty Verdict

Washington, D.C. – Poligon Education Fund released the following statement in response to the April 20th conviction, charging former Officer Derek Chauvin with murder: 

Nine minutes, one year, and a few more minutes. This is what the cycle of police violence and lack of accountability looks like in the United States. Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes before he took Floyd’s life. The system took 330 days to convict Chauvin of a murder the whole world watched, and only a few minutes after the reading of Chauvin’s guilty verdict we learned of another state sanctioned police killing that took the life of 15 year old Ma’Khia Bryant. 

We cannot call the April 20th conviction of Derek Chauvin justice; we call it accountability. Chauvin is only one officer. He is where we start. The whole system must follow for true transformative justice, where George Floyd and Daunte Wright can embrace their daughters and granddaughters. A world where Ma’Khia Bryant and Adam Toledo are not robbed of their childhood. While the jury’s verdict was a historical, surreal moment for many of us, presenting a moment of relief and proof that accountability is possible, it is not lost on us that Chauvin’s conviction does not absolve policing as a whole. It demonstrates that the system, when in danger, will sacrifice one of its own to avoid true accountability and transformation.

We continue to demand justice for Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, and the many more young black and brown people who should have been with us today. As allies to the Black-led liberation movement, we reaffirm our unwavering solidarity and fight for racial justice. It is time to protect, center, and listen to our Black siblings as they continue to lead us in the fight for transformative justice. In doing so, we stand firm in holding elected officials to the promises made in 2020 and demanding meaningful policies that divest from violence and invest in our communities. We uplift the Movement for Black Lives’ BREATHE Act, a bold piece of legislation recognizing community power and shifting how we envision community-care and safety. 

Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd and the people who continue to fight in defense of Black and Brown lives. To our Black and Brown siblings who have endured generational and collective trauma, anger, exhaustion and pain as a result of violent policing, we stand by you. We recognize, honor, and hold space for your fight towards collective liberation.

### Poligon Education Fund is a national non profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening Muslim American engagement with Congress through training, education, and advocacy. Learn more at www.poligonnational.org.

​COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout: CDC & HHS Guidelines & Resources

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Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 Vaccines

With increased vaccine distributions nationwide following the passage of the American Rescue Plan, Poligon is here to provide resources, policy updates, as well as educational content on COVID-19.

[Breaking] Every person age 16 and up can now get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Have some general questions about receiving the vaccine? 
Read this FAQ from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Read what fully vaccinated people need to know
Read about how to talk to your family and friends about COVID-19

Read about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine when you are uninsured

Here’s where you can find out more about the J&J Vaccine:

No Ban Now, No Ban Ever

With the NO BAN Act in Congress, we have a real chance at ending religious discrimination in immigration laws. Thanks to you, the Muslim & Africa Bans gained traction all the way to Congress. The House Judiciary Committee will consider the NO BAN Act for markup this week, marking a major milestone in our progress towards the passage of this necessary bill.