By Andrew S. Jacobson
Leaders from the Kashmiri American and African diasporas came together in a powerful demonstration of cross-cultural solidarity, calling for civil rights actions to alleviate the longstanding suffering in Kashmir. The meeting, held under the banner “Unity Across Continents,” was co-hosted by the World Kashmir Awareness Forum and the Sierra Leone Muslim Jamaat.
Imam Teslim Afghali, who led the discussion, emphasized the urgency of the human rights issues in Kashmir, a region disputed between India and Pakistan since 1947.
Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Imam Afghali remarked, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” urging the audience to unite with the Kashmiri American diaspora.
The panel also drew attention to recent developments, including Prince George County’s unanimous adoption of a resolution declaring a “Kashmiri Muslims Remembrance Day.”
Dr. Ghulam N. Mir, president of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, and Dr. Imtiaz Khan, a professor at George Washington University, expressed gratitude for acts of solidarity and delved into harrowing historical accounts of atrocities committed against the Kashmiri population. They criticized the Modi government for its actions since the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A in August 2019, which they say effectively stripped Kashmir of its autonomy.
Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, pointed out the potential benefits of seeking support from the African Union, which represents a sizable political and economic force on the global stage.
The event wasn’t limited to American perspectives. Two distinguished guests from Turkey added an international flavor to the discussion. Dr. Cihangir Irisbilir remarked that he was “very happy to see the African community in Washington pleading the case of Kashmir.”
The initiative aimed to strengthen ties between the Sierra Leone Muslim Jamaat and the Kashmiri American diaspora, with a focus on ongoing communication and shared social and religious values to advance peace and social justice.
Some of the experts and attendees noted that the cross-continental alliance formed at the meeting could signify a new chapter in the struggle for Kashmiri human rights – one that could bring the issue to a broader, more diverse audience than ever before.
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