This year, the aggressively vocal anti-Semite and anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour was invited by the Vanderbilt Muslim Students Association and the Middle Eastern Students Association to talk about “Intersectionality and Allyship.”
Two years prior, Tennessee’s AMAC invited Sarsour to speak in Knoxville alongside AMAC board member Drost Kokoye and Islamic Society of North American (ISNA) fundraiser Faheed Tasleem.
Sarsour, an Obama “Champion of Change” and CAIR “American Muslim of the Year,” is well known for her overt hatred of Israel and all things Jewish. Born in New York to Palestinian immigrants from the West Bank, she self-identifies as a Palestinian-American and uses every opportunity including the Ferguson “intifada” to piggyback alleged oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli government.
— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) October 31, 2012
Sarsour is a vocal promoter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and a prolific tweeter of anti-Israel messages telling Muslim audiences that they shouldn’t “humanize” Jews whom she characterizes as oppressors of Arabs.
According to Sarsour, she is “deeply involved in the BLM [Black Lives Matter] movement” which was birthed from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson that resulted in weeks of protests, most of which were violent, and has ushered in a war on police including unprovoked execution-style attacks on police.
Speaking at ISNA’s annual convention in September, Sarsour sourced her campaign against alleged police brutality to Jews, referencing the Anti-Defamation League’s program of connecting U.S. law enforcement to training by Israel law enforcement. Steve Emerson, Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, summarized Sarsour’s comments to mean, “[w]hen police officers in America shoot unarmed black people, Jewish hands lurk in the background.”
Kokoye, who has served as an AMAC board member since it was launched in 2011, shares Sarsour’s intense anti-law enforcement activism and anti-Israel animus. She has been a prolific tweeter of anti-Israel messaging and raised her bullhorn to lead anti-Israel demonstrators in Nashville who were carrying signs reading the genocidal message “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” meaning there would be no Israel between the Jordan River and Mediterranean—and no Jews.
Kokoye has helped organize anti-police protests at the University of Tennessee Knoxville where she is a student. She organized a protest after the Ferguson shooting. After the Freddie Gray shooting in Baltimore, Kokoye organized a protest to “stand with Baltimore” against alleged police brutality.
During a February 2018, protest, Kokoye was caught on video shoving her bullhorn directly into the faces of police officers for wearing riot gear while lined up to protect the protesters.
Claiming to represent Muslims living in Tennessee AMAC says it “serves as a bridge between the Tennessee Muslim community and law enforcement as well as government and private agencies.” Led by Zulfat Suara, AMAC signed the “Call for Justice: Joint Letter on American Muslim Solidarity Against Police Brutality” as a supporting organization, along with Kokoye and AMAC board member, Sabina Mohyuddin in their individual capacity.
Sarsour signed the same letter as “co-Founder of Muslims for Ferguson & Civil Rights Activist.”
Like Sarsour who was involved in organizing the women’s march on Washignton, D.C., AMAC’s chairman Zulfat Suara was a featured speaker at the first and second Women’s March held in Nashville. Whereas the first gathering emphasized voting power, the second march covered a wide-range of issues – “reproductive rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, environmental justice, access to health care and more.”
Sarsour’s MPower list of 100 “Muslim Social Justice Leaders” includes both Suara and Kokoye.
Tawwasal’s co-founder UT Knoxville graduate Amira Sakalla founded the school’s anti-Israel organization Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), was “an active organizer within Knoxville’s Black Lives Matter campaign” and interned with the anti-Israel Friends of Sabeel organization. SJP chapters are the primary vehicle for promoting the anti-Israel BDS campaign on college campuses.
– – –
Chris Alto is an investigative reporter with The Tennessee Star.