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Protesters: "Don't let Paris attacks be pretext for racism, war"

Anti-war and civil rights groups rallied outside City Hall to support Syrian refugees

Coalition of anti-war activists rallied outside City Hall to denounce racism against Syrian immigrants and bombing of Syria.
Coalition of anti-war activists rallied outside City Hall to denounce racism against Syrian immigrants and bombing of Syria.Read moreMENSAH M. DEAN/Daily News Staff

LAST WEEK'S PARIS massacre by terrorists has given rise to a growing tide of racism against Syrian refugees in the U.S. and Europe, and has resulted in innocent civilians in Syria being bombed by the French, said members of a coalition of civil rights and anti-war groups that rallied outside Philadelphia City Hall yesterday evening.

"First of all, f--- Donald Trump, down with racism and down with fascism," Scott Williams, 27, a member of the International Action Center, said into a microphone to about 70 protesters - some of whom covered their faces with bandanas while waving the red, black and green Pan-African flag.

"No justice, no peace, U.S. out of the Middle East," Williams led the group in chanting, as curious passers-by hustled along in Dilworth Park. "When Muslims are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back," went another chant.

"I think every bigot now has come out of the woodwork to say, 'Us against them.' I don't think that's a good platform to use, and we who are conscious must fight against that," said Asa Khalif, who heads the Black Lives Matter Movement in Philadelphia.

During an interview before the rally, Williams, of Kensington, said that as tragic as the murders of 130 people in Paris was, "We don't want to see that used as a pretext for growing war against people in Syria, Iraq and all over the world."

Pam Africa, a longtime member of the black nationalist group MOVE and supporter of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, said that although the French have championed Abu-Jamal's claims of innocence, she condemns its bombing of Syria.

"I fight imperialism no matter where it's at," she said.

"My family was bombed here. Eleven men, women and children died," she said, eluding to the 1985 clash between MOVE and the Philadelphia Police Department.

"So, we know firsthand what that feels like. I am devastated about what happened to the French people, but the people in Syria don't have a damn thing to do with what's going on with these heads of state," Africa added.

"I don't think the attacks on Paris should be used as an excuse to further our aggression in the Middle East in Muslim countries," said Lena Smith, 28, a grassroots organizer who held a sign denouncing "Israeli apartheid" and supporting the Palestinians.

On Twitter: @MensahDean