The Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to change Columbus Day to “Indigenous People’s Day” on Monday. The name-change was proposed by council member Nadeem Mazen, who told a local radio station that Columbus “was a genocidal figure.”
Mazen sits on the board of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and spearheaded the effort to rename Columbus Day, according to local news stations. “Columbus was not a laudable figure. He was a genocidal figure,” Mazen said.
Mazen’s fellow board members were quick to jump on board with his proposal. Cambridge Vice Mayor Marc McGovern called Columbus “the first person to start the genocide that took place in this part of the world,” according to the Boston Globe.
“I view changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a cleansing for me, as an Italian-American. I do not want Christopher Columbus to be representing my culture,” McGovern said before the vote. “I really view it … as making a day that I can actually be proud of.”
Similarly, Cambridge Mayor E. Denis Williams called the vote “a very important day in Cambridge.”
Mazen told the Globe that the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day will be more “solemn” than typical Columbus Day celebrations.
CAIR’s website describes Mazen as a “local business owner, civic activist, educator, and innovator.” The group was designated a terrorist organization in 2014 by the United Arab Emirates, putting it on the same list as Al Qaeda and ISIS.
In 2007, the group was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a terror case involving the funding of Hamas.
Follow Peter Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson