On Saturday (August 2), Hana and I travelled to Austin as part of ICI’s Texans for Gaza coalition.

The genocide in progress is intolerable, and the only comfort I take is that Allah azza wa jall is Maliki Yaumiddin (the only owner and possessor and judge of the Day of Judgement), something that those in charge of the Israeli armed forces seem to have forgotten in their gluttonous quest to possess the oil & gas fields off the coast of Gaza.

But I digress.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Circle of North America, and the Muslim American Society formed part of the coalition that sponsored the rally, and helped to provide buses to ferry people to the Austin from around the state.

The day started just after Fajr. We boarded a big white bus—Irving 2, the other bus from ICI was black—and headed off to Austin. We stopped at a Flying J and Burger King in Waco, and again for delicious sandwiches from Halal Brothers. (As with other large groups of people, herding everyone back on the bus—and keeping them on the bus—was difficult, and delayed our arrival by perhaps an hour. But it was good times.

Hana had a nice nap, I dozed a bit, and we looked out the windows and had snacks.

When we at last arrived, a plane was circling overhead, dragging a banner reading “Save Gaza – Free Palestine.” We walked from the north side of the capitol building around to the south lawn, where the rally was already taking place, with a fiery speech from Sheikh Islam Mossaad (from the North Austin Muslim Community Center).

In addition to the bussed-in and local Muslim population, there were a considerable number of others making up the roughly 5000 person crowd. In addition to Sheikh Mossaad, speakers (that we saw) included Minister Jim Rigby (of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church), Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, and Dr. Rania Masri, so it was  a really inclusive crowd. And after the rally we marched from the State Capitol to Austin City Hall.

After the march, we hiked back to the bus and returned to Dallas.

All in all, it was a good experience: my (and Hana’s) first protest rally/march; a good test of my event-photography skills (they’re lacking…); and InshaAllah we helped one person make up their minds.

But one or two things bothered me a bit: Austin is the Capitol of Texas, and it’s also a college town. As such, a rally and march on a Saturday in early August likely missed the people it was intended to influence. The streets were mostly empty (except for us), and in my darker moments, I wonder if the whole thing wasn’t mostly a case of preaching to the choir. InshaAllah it meant much more than that: Allahu Alim.

If you’re on the fence about the genocide (or think it’s something other than a genocide) consider that 1) Israel, with its ongoing and illegal settlements, is the aggressor and so the line that Israel has a right to protect itself falls flat: So do the Gazans; 2) the tunnels were built to ferry goods and people past the 7 year blockade, and Egypt closed tunnels into its territory by flooding them, and without leveling entire towns or annexing 45% of Gaza; 3) the so-called use of civilians as shields is meaningless when the population of 1.8 million is packed into 139 square miles: there is simply nowhere for the people to go.

Beyond making dua, signing petitions, attending rallies, and refusing to buy products made in Israel or the occupied territory, or from companies that support Israel in its illegal settlements or occupation or blockades of the Palestinian people, I’m not sure what I can do.

May Allah grant ease and victory to all of the oppressed peoples throughout the world, regardless of race, creed, religion, or national origin, and may He guide the oppressors.

In the mean time, we must believe that Allah will Judge us all. Alhamdulillah.D7000, Sigma 30mm f/1.4. ISO100, AP mode, various apertures; iPhone 5, built-in camera app.

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