Muslim veterans lead NYC parade of immigrants celebrating their ‘hyphen’

By Omar Etman, For PBS News Hour, On Aug 16th 2016, Read Original

New Yorkers from more than 80 countries marched through downtown Brooklyn in solidarity with Muslim-American veterans on Sunday in a show of unity many participants aimed to counter recent waves of Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment spurred by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The celebration of the third annual International Day of Friendship was part of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams’ “Embrace Your Hyphen” campaign, which encourages residents to celebrate all aspects of their identity.

The event came the week after Trump drew criticism for his comments to the parents of a Muslim army captain killed in Iraq in 2004.

“We must out-Trump Trump,” Adams said, to big cheers.

[The flag of Libya in the row of 195 flags represented at the 3rd annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn, NY, on August 7, 2016. Photo by Omar Etman/PBS NewsHour Weekend]

The flag of Libya appears in the row of 195 flags represented at the 3rd annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn, NY, on Aug. 7, 2016. Photo by Omar Etman/PBS NewsHour Weekend

In introducing three Muslim-American veterans, Adams said: “This is not the land of cowards. We do not turn against each other. We embrace each other. And we do not allow people to use religion to harm those who righteously worship in peace.”

[Krystal Guzman and her grandmother Angela Filomena representing Puerto Rico at the 3rd annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn, NY on August 7, 2016. Photo by Omar Etman/PBS NewsHour Weekend]

Krystal Guzman and her grandmother Angela Filomena represent Puerto Rico at the 3rd annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn, NY, on Aug. 7, 2016. Photo by Omar Etman/PBS NewsHour Weekend

During the march, Jessica Filomeno, 38, representing Puerto Rico, held the flag of Norway. “That’s what I love about this parade: you can represent anybody,” she said.

Filomeno’s mother and daughter, who was wearing a traditional Puerto Rican dress, had also joined in the festivities. Filomena has attended the International Day of Friendship each year.

In 2014, the parade traveled only a few blocks, and not as many countries were represented, she said. This year, the flags of 195 countries were on display.

[Boys do the moko jumbie, a stilt walking dance native to Trinidad and Tobago, at the 3rd annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn, NY on August 7, 2016. Photo by Omar Etman/PBS NewsHour Weekend]

Boys do the moko jumbie, a stilt walking dance native to Trinidad and Tobago, at the 3rd annual International Day of Friendship celebration in Brooklyn, NY, on Aug. 7, 2016. Photo by Omar Etman/PBS NewsHour Weekend

Felina Backer, a volunteer from Haiti who also sang the national anthem, said she was happy to see immigrants loudly celebrating their hyphenated identities.

“People are here saying, ‘I’m an immigrant and I matter.'” she said.

[Byambakhuu Darinchuluun (L) and members from the delegation from Mongolia enjoy the festivities]

Byambakhuu Darinchuluun, left, and people representing Mongolia enjoyed the festivities. Photo by Omar Etman/NewsHour Weekend

Byambakhuu Darinchuluun, representing Mongolia alongside 25 others from the Mongol Heritage Foundation, appeared to revel in the celebratory air.

When asked about anti-immigrant comments made by Trump, he shrugged it off, gesturing to the diverse crowd around him.

See more photos from the parade below.