Washington-area Jews and Muslims doled out bread smothered in hummus to passers-by, and preached peace and solidarity as part of the second annual “Spread Hummus Not Hate” bus tour.
With the rise of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry, the 15 local participants wanted to spread this message: “Jews and Muslims in Greater Washington are committed to connecting with each other.” The joint venture of the nonprofit Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum made stops at area universities and religious centers on Nov. 5.
The tour began with a stop at the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring; the activists then journeyed through rush-hour traffic to the University of Maryland, where Jewish and Muslim students had anticipated the bus’ arrival with decorated signs and tables set up outside the student union.
Sahar Khamis, associate professor of communication at UMD, stood on a soapbox and addressed students.
“I think it is very important for the world to see these positive examples [of] harmony, peace and reconciliation because that provides the alternative message and the alternative narrative, which is much needed during these times,” Khamis said, as her students and those from a conflict resolution class looked on.
Participants distributed yellow fliers with action items as others played music and waved a rainbow flag.
Participants were encouraged to sign the “Stand Up for the Other” pledge authored by Dr. Ali Chaudry, president of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, N.J. The pledge calls upon signatories to speak out when they hear hateful comments from their own communities about another community and to “challenge bigotry in any form.”
Symi Rom-Rymer, board member of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, asked participants to use social media to thank public figures who stand up against negative rhetoric and to call out those who do not on Twitter using #SpreadHummusNotHate.
“There’s a lot of hateful rhetoric against minority communities,” but social media can be a powerful tool, said Rom-Rymer. “Political leaders listen when we speak up,” especially during a presidential election cycle.
The tour continued on to Adas Israel Congregation, Farragut Square Park and Masjid Muhammad before concluding at George Washington University.
“These are grassroots Muslims and Jews of all ages who are coming together to say, ‘We refuse to be enemies,’” said Walter Ruby, FFEU’s Muslim-Jewish program director.
“We’re going to work together for the betterment of both communities and the greater Washington community.”