When KNON radio listeners in North Texas heard Syed Hassan speak about the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride (IWFR) on the morning of Sept. 3, they could tell that he was proud of his adopted country but concerned about preserving civil rights for all. Hassan told listeners that he had arrived in his new country exactly 16 years ago to the day.

In Pakistan, Hassan had worked for democracy. He continues that effort in North Texas by promoting the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride (IWFR). Two buses from Los Angeles are scheduled to come to Dallas on the afternoon of Sept. 27, and Hassan is helping develop a big rally in their honor. It will be held at 400 W. Main in downtown Dallas at 2 p.m.

Hassan told his radio audience that the situation for Middle Eastern immigrants had grown critical since the Bush administration instituted aggressive changes after Sept. 11, 2001. He recounted personal tragedies to families that he knew – tragedies brought about by persecution of Middle Eastern immigrants. Thousands of Muslims, Hassan said, were trying to get out of the U.S. and into Canada.

The IWFR coalition in North Texas was founded in May with Jobs with Justice and two major unions: the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE!). They quickly added many of the other AFL-CIO affiliated unions, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), North Texans for Justice and Peace, major religious institutions including the Catholic Diocese, and the active immigrant rights organizations of the area. Hassan came as a representative of the newly-formed Muslim American Congress, which, he proudly reports, is the largest American organization that stands up for the rights of Muslims.

While Hassan was speaking to the radio audience on the weekly “Worker Beat” program, the IWFR coalition was gaining a milestone at City Hall: the Mayor of Dallas proclaimed Sept. 27 “Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride Day.”

The author can be reached at pww@pww.org