On December 15 CAIR-Chicago executive director Ahmed Rehab attended and spoke at “The People’s Memorial Tribute To Nelson Mandela: Celebrating A Life & Legacy” at Beloved Community Christian Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Rehab represented Chicago Muslims at the televised memorial at the invitation of Congressman Bobby Rush, a US civil rights icon. Also speaking were congressman Danny Davis, former IL governor & friend of Mandela, George Ryan, as well as State diplomats from South Africa, Ireland, India, Pakistan and Japan, and community leaders.
The atmosphere at Beloved Community Christian church was festive as it was inspirational, reconciliatory as it was defiant.
Musicians from both South Africa and the South Side electrified and brought alive the mood from the both the civil rights era here and Nelson’s anti-apartheid years in Africa.
The event was covered by CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, CLTV, and Univision.
Rehab’s greeting of “Asalamu Alaikum” was responded to with as loud and resonate an “Alaikum Asalam” in the church as one would expect to have heard in any mosque.
Rehab’s message centered around two points:
“We cannot claim to stand for Mandela, without having the courage to stand for what Mandela stood for: anti-apartheid everywhere!”
“Mandela did not vanquish his oppressors. No, he vanquished oppression and liberated his oppressors just as much as he liberated the oppressed. That’s true victory, that is greatness.”