Mother of Imprisoned Muslim Activist to Speak at 9/11 Town Hall in Dearborn

Jake Neher/WDET

Rhonda Anderson (right) and Sherrine Azab (left) join Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.

As we do each year, our country is reflecting this week on the tragedy that befell the nation on September 11th, 2001.

Terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania killed about three thousand people. And they sent our country in a new direction, politically, emotionally — in the way we view the rest of the world and in the way we view ourselves.

That new direction has also led to more victims — at home and overseas. We launched two foreign wars that continue to result in casualties and eat up resources to this day. And within the confines of our borders, we have viewed each other — especially people of color — with deep suspicion. That suspicion has resulted in raids, intimidation, and incarceration.

Each year, the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn holds a 9/11 Town Hall to reflect on that terrible day 17 years ago and these themes. This year’s event takes place on Friday at 8 p.m. It will include storytelling, performances, and a public dialogue, all of which will focus on detention and incarceration. You can find ticket information here.

One of the speakers at this year’s event is Rhonda Anderson, mother of Siwatu Salama-Ra, a 26-year-old environmental activist and mother from Detroit who’s behind bars for brandishing a firearm when she says she felt threatened by a neighbor. Salama-Ra was pregnant when she entered prison and had to deliver her son while behind bars.

Anderson joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about her daughter’s story and about the event this weekend.

I think this is mostly because she’s a black woman…and she attempted to defend herself. And she’s suffering the consequences of that,” says Anderson.

It really saddens me around this time of September 11th because I really want to honor the victims, but I think it’s a real dishonor to their memory to act in a way to the people who are filled with hate that did those actions than around coming together and bringing justice to the people who we share the county with,” says Azab.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Arab American National Museum

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