In defense of the chant “Al-mout li Amreeka”

Abdul Bari at a Detroit Palestine solidarity march on April 12, 2024
Abdul Bari at a Detroit Palestine solidarity march on April 12, 2024.

Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, is an annual, international day to express support for Palestine and oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, particularly Jerusalem. Quds Day is held on the last Friday of Ramadan. Large rallies are held, usually beginning after the communal Friday prayers. Established in 1979 shortly after the victory of the Iranian Revolution to show solidarity with Palestinians and reject Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, Quds Day has become a symbol of resistance.

On Quds Day on April 5, 2024, the annual rally was held in Dearborn, Michigan where the chant “Al-mout li Amreeka” was raised. The English translation of the chant is “Death to Amerika”. The chant generated a considerable amount of controversy. Fighting Words reprints a letter written to Detroit media explaining the meaning behind the chant. At the end of the letter is a link to a TV interview with the letter’s author.

– Fighting Words staff


By Abdul Bari

How are you? This letter is in regards to your recent article on the Quds Day rally held last week in Dearborn.

Apparently the objectionable chant was initiated by an individual that has been identified in social media as myself. I was a bit surprised at all of the attention – all the way to the White House – but it is what it is. Obviously there is a need to at least be allowed to explain what is going on. These views are mine, and I am not in any way affiliated with the organizers or speakers at the rally last Friday. Perhaps they are representing an ideology that I share with them, as do hundreds millions of other Muslims throughout the world. That ideology, while certainly hated in West, is a legitimate, modern and revolutionary expression of the Islamic faith and reflects the aspirations of Muslims world wide to be free from oppression, occupation, and dictatorial regimes where the people have no rights and are brutally repressed. Other than such perhaps similarly shared convictions, I don’t have any affiliation with those individuals from that rally, and thus I can only speak for myself.

Firstly, International Quds Day is an event called for since 1979 by the leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Imam Khomeini.The idea being that as the mosques are typically the fullest for the last Friday prayers during the month of Ramadan, the sermons by imams and Muslim preachers world-wide should be devoted to the issue of the occupation of Palestine, and particularly calling for the liberation  of Jerusalem (Quds to the Muslims), and that the faithful should gather and call the Muslim peoples to realize that the struggle for the liberation of Palestine is an Islamic issue, not merely an Arab national one, and that Muslims the world over should join in the efforts to liberate Palestine as an Islamic duty. That is why we gather to have that rally all over the world. The voices raised at that rally – the speakers – represent the cutting edge of the Islamic critique of amerikan imperialism and they are authentic voices of resistance, indigenous to America, coming from among Muslim coverts, immigrants and their children – all Americans! It is a voice well able to articulate the cries of the oppressed, from both here and abroad, and present the solution to the problems of American society as being a social change that will bring about a just social order, based on principles of law and order, and justice for all, where the rich and propertied elements of the society are no longer are able to live as parasites feeding off the masses of OUR  people here in OUR country, who are presently dwelling in abject poverty and under the grinding weight of taxes, debts and a million socially engineered bad habits. This voice is not  unAmerican. We are from the United States, and this is as much our country as anyone else’s! We believe the betterment of OUR country lay in changing the system of capitalism…we’re not ISIS, and we don’t hate or oppose anyone for their faith, and we identify with those who removed ISIS. So imagine, our heroes fought ISIS to stop them killing, raping and enslaving non-Muslim  people, as oppression is against our faith and we are obligated to resist it regardless of the faith of whoever is doing it.

Take that and transfer it here. We are Americans in the sense of being born here, raised here, raising our families and making the best of our lives here – this is our country as much as it is anyone else’s. Go back home, the racists say – and where might that be? In other words, if we don’t agree to an ideology and a world-view that justifies and is directly complicit in an open genocide, and calls massive baby-killing self-defense,  and if we think our country better served by a system other than capitalism, then we have to go somewhere else?!?! Sorry, that’s not going to work for us, but that does sound a lot like Nazi Germany. It is this racist and oppressively privileged system behind such chauvinism that we call amerika – with the k! It is this system that we are dead set in opposition to. Does that mean kill Americans??? Should we start with ourselves, as we are Americans??? I personally am proud to have a desire to see this nation rid of the crooks and disgusting figures we have running our county. In spite of horrible crimes committed by the US and amerikan puppet regimes against the people of Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Palestine, there have never been violent acts committed here by any of those Muslims who follow the ideology of Islamic resistance –  why – obviously because that slogan doesn’t mean hurt the people living here or to disrupt the society here through violence and warfare. The common masses of people here are being oppressed by the same system causing the mayhem abroad. It means down with the system. Virtually all of the leftist in the United States call for the overthrown of amerikan capitalism. Do we fear them for being violent terrorists? Yet we see white supremacists actively engaged in very real, organized  campaigns of lone wolf armed terrorist attacks on people of color here in OUR country, targeting  churches, mosques and black people specifically, and calling for other whites to also engage in further violent acts. I haven’t heard the White House talking about that, just playing like it doesn’t exist?! Like somehow these are just individual nuts killing people rather than racially motivated activists engaged in heinous acts to achieve political objects through violence.

In general that slogan means we staunchly oppose the people who have brought a historical shame to every American by supporting open genocide and a baby killing operation in the holy lands that would make Herod green with envy. We do not support the existence of the zionist state – no, we would say quite openly that it has no right to exist. What rightful basis is there to steal a nation and occupy it for 75 years, as if no one was already there? What justifies a right to land theft, to a modern Trail of Tears in pushing out a whole population of people from their historical lands and supplanting them with settlers from Europe and America? Is it somehow colonialists’ religion has given them the right to be modern day land pirates, but what of the religious faiths of the peoples already there – would they not beg to differ??? Are not whole segments of educated Jews – rabbis – saying that Israel has no right to exist under Judaism? So by what right does the British colonial project called Israel have to exist, much less slaughter and viciously repress the indigenous population of Palestine for the last 75 years, and most recently engage in the genocidal depopulation of Gaza?! Self-defense or because of natural gas deposits there – as Jerad Kushner recently said, Gaza is prime real estate, except for the Palestinians being there?! So about Oct.7th – what about it? We are not saying slaughter the Jews, and according to the Israeli press, a large number of the israeli civilians slaughtered that day were killed by the IDF themselves. Hamas specifically attacked the zionist military and settlers in their armed  settlements on illegally occupied land. We are against killing civilians and women and children, but what we are saying is we want the land returned to its rightful owners – and that this outcome will be similar to the other decolonization efforts …how many French had to leave Algeria when it was returned to the Algerian people? That is a decision for the Palestinians to make, not us! As for hostages, do you mean the tens of thousands of Palestinians – thousands of them children – languishing in zionist prisons without due process, being subject to torture and abuse? Or we only call the Jewish captives as hostages? We do not accept the narrative of the zionists painting themselves as victims, and we are not sympathetic to their worries and concerns – they are on stolen land and borrowed time.

But back to that chant – would it have been better if we had not said it, perhaps. But it was said – and I would conclude by pointing out that you are in the media, and should as a journalist find the truth and explain it. No one is calling for violence or to harm anything or anyone, but rather it is a call saying down with the system, down with imperialism, and down with support for baby-killing and genocide, down with rulers that call for ceasefire out of their mouths,  while rushing $3.8bn in weapons to a criminal regime intentionally butchering innocent Palestinians civilians. That is the issue – if you don’t want to hear American Muslim people saying such obviously controversial and “detestable” things here in our country, shocking and potentially enraging as they may be, then end military aid to the racist regime occupying Palestine! Remove the cause of it – return Palestine to its rightful owners, or at least get out of the way so they can liberate themselves!

Feel free to contact me if you wish to discuss this matter further and need any clarification about anything I’ve said in it. Thank you for at least reading this letter, and I hope you continue your hard journalistic endeavors.

Yours in Peace,
Abdul Bari


1 Comment

  1. I was at the rally. Mr. Bari expressed solidarity with the Black liberation struggle in the US and specifically referenced the anti imperialist tradition of the Black Panthers and Malcolm X and their solidarity with the struggle for Palestinian liberation.

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