1960s Mantra Is Updated Today
By Outpouring At Sufi Enclave
By LIBBY CUDMORE • for AllOTSEGO.com
ISLAMBERG – In the end, love won.
Five-hundred supporters from Oneonta, Cooperstown, Hancock and as far as South Carolina and Georgia stood united with the residents of Islamberg this afternoon against about a dozen “American Bikers United Against Jihad.”
The motorcyclists had threatened to harass the Muslim community en masse. But today, only five bikers and five vehicles drove past the Sufi community on a dirt road between Routes 11 and 17 in Delaware County.
Even after it was over, the “American Bikers” website was claiming 74 attended.
“Today is our day,” Lee Fisher, president of the NAACP, Oneonta Chapter, told the crowd gathered for lunch afterwards. “You came to the right place to fight hatred and what I would consider terrorism. We overcame evil with truth and justice.”
Standing alongside the road in front of Islamberg, the supporters chanted “Freedom, Justice, USA!” and “Stop Harassing American Muslims!” as the riders – many of them wearing masks – rode by. Five of them were on motorcycles despite the cold, windy temperatures, while approximately eight others rode by in cars.
“We’re excited to be here to support our neighbors,” said Oneonta Council member Michelle Osterhoudt, who read Mayor Gary Herzig’s proclamation during the rally. “It’s amazing how many people were here to support Islamberg and how few showed from the biker group.”
Prohibited by state police from stopping, and thus blocking, on the road – a public thoroughfare – the drive-by lasted less than a minute, and the riders did not engage the crowd.
Afterwards, the residents of Islamberg invited the supporters for a blessing, lunch and speeches. “It’s all very touching,” said Rahkiah Abdullah, a 20-year resident of the village. “It’s a lot of love.”
“All of you here today set a beautiful example for unity,” said Mayor Rashid Haqq. “We came together on common ground for peace, justice and unity to stand against bigotry, Islamophobia and hatred.”
And Nancy Furdock, Hancock, even had kind words for the bikers. “I want to thank them for this amazing opportunity that you have afforded our community,” she said. “We can show the world that we stand by our neighbors regardless of race, creed or religion.”