This year’s annual Muslim Day Parade in New York City featured local community leaders and Girl Scouts marching, but included a mannequin hanging from a noose, women locked up in a cage and a man on a golden chariot whipping others dressed in military garb, to the surprise of some onlookers.
While the message may have been lost on some of the New Yorkers and tourists who encountered the parade on Madison Avenue Sunday, organisers explained that these Egyptian participants were doing this to criticise President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi’s government.
A number of conservative-leaning US news sites considered the displays excessively violent. The parade had already run into controversy in previous years when black flags associated with jihadist movements were spotted among participants; no such flags were seen this year.
“I was shocked by the graphic images”
I have been going to cover the parade for seven years, and noticed this year was much more political than the past years. I have never seen such violent displays, and I was shocked by some of the graphic images posted on the Egyptian demonstrators’ truck. [Editor’s Note: The demonstrators displayed photos of the August 2013 Rabaa massacre].
Photo by Urban Infidel.
It was unreal to see this in the middle of New York City, with children walking by. There were also children in the parade, right behind that truck. I think kids at parades should get balloons and have a good time! They have a right to free speech, of course, but to me this was way over the line.
“Participants come from many different nations, and some have problems back in their home countries they need to tell the world about”
People from many different countries and different backgrounds take part in this parade – from the Middle East and Arab countries, but also from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and African nations. Some of these people have problems back in their home countries, and since the United States is a free country that values freedom of expression, we allow them to share their grievances during the parade.
This year, there were many Egyptians who were angry with human rights violations taking place in Egypt, and who feel that the current government was not fairly elected since the military already had all the power in their hands. They wanted to carry fake guns as part of their fake military costumes, but we the organisers as well as the police told them that was not allowed. Instead, they carried batons, to show how the police in Egypt is treating the common man. These displays were not organised by the Muslim Brotherhood [Editor's Note: Symbols of the Muslim Brotherhood, however, were used by demonstrators].
Some onlookers didn’t understand what was going on, and I think that was problematic – the demonstrators should have used signs to explain their displays.
This year as in previous years, people from other countries in conflict have also taken the opportunity educate New Yorkers about what was going on. There were banners bemoaning the violence in Syria and Libya, notably. The overall goal of the parade is to show people that Islam is a peace-loving religion and that we are not terrorists. In fact, the parade’s theme this year was ‘Islam and America share the same values’.