Detroit — Hundreds of Metro Detroit Palestinians gathered in Hart Plaza Friday to rally against President Donald Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The group showed up in 30-degree weather to wave signs reading “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, Palestine will be free,” and Palestinian flags along East Jefferson Avenue.
Julia Kassem of Detroit said she organized the emergency rally to protest Trump’s decision and show local Palestinians they have support.
“I called for the rally in order to show support to the largest concentrated Arab and Muslim community in the United States and to stand with our brothers and sisters in Palestine,” said Kassem, 21. “Political and economic injustices there are parallel to the marginalization to those in the communities of Metro Detroit.”
Trump said his recognition acknowledged the “obvious” that Jerusalem is the seat of Israel’s government despite its disputed status that’s one of the key elements in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The announcement on Wednesday also directed the State Department to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as required by U.S. law.
“What’s the benefit (for the U.S.) coming in between the fight ... endangering the possibility of a peace settlement between Israel and Palestinians,” said Khalid Turaani, president of the American Muslim Leadership Council. “It’s stupid, but we’re not surprised.”
Trump has maintained his decision won’t compromise the city’s geographic and political borders, which will still be determined by Israel and the Palestinians.
Addressing the crowd Friday, Turaani declared “we will protest even when it’s freezing,” and “we’ve got to do something to send a message. This is just the beginning.”
Jerusalem is home to Islam’s third-holiest shrine and major Christian sites. Perceived harm to Muslim claims to the city has triggered protests in the past, in the Holy Land and beyond.
During the two-hour demonstration, Detroit police said they helped escort the peaceful protestors, who chanted “from the river, to the sea, Palestine will be free,” as they marched from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius.
Huwaida Arraf, a Palestinian from Detroit, spoke to the crowd about refusing colonialism before leading groups in their evening prayer, which they say they sent to the people of Palestine.
“We refuse this because we refuse colonialism,” said Arraf. “Instead of moving the embassy, call on Israel to stop apartheid.”
The Associated Press contributed