Rally Against Hate Crimes in Greenlawn

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a rally at the Masjid Noor mosque at the corner of Park Ave. and Broadway-Greenlawn. The mosque has been vandalized on a number of occasions—hate crimes that appear to be linked. A man has been arrested and accused of perpetrating two of the incidents. The rally last Friday was attended by most of the town council members and many of the town’s clergy. You can read an account of the rally here.

The rally was not only an important event to show support for the mosque and emphasize the community’s opposition to hate crimes, but it was also a good opportunity for me to meet leaders of the mosque. I particularly appreciated that we did more than just give speeches. The rally began with us all joining in the Friday afternoon prayer service. It was a beautiful service with a wonderful sermon by the Imam. I was also impressed that there were almost 200 worshipers present.

After the rally the various town and religious leaders presented their statements. Given the cold day and the number of speakers I was brief and summarized what my written statement. I was glad to be able to represent out church at this event and I hope it leads to further cooperation between our church and the mosque. Here is my written statement:

As Pastor of The Congregational Church of Huntington, United Church of Christ, and President of the Board of Governors of the Long Island Council of Churches I am here to support the members of the Masjid Noor Mosque as they seek to worship in peace. It is shameful that they have been the victims of repeated vandalism intended to intimidate them and to stir anti-Muslim sentiments in our community.

The good news is that these actions have not, and will not, succeed. I am proud to live in Huntington, a community with a tradition of supporting all forms of religious expression. Long Island is one of the most religiously diverse communities on the planet and to embrace this mosaic is one of our greatest strengths. I celebrate the presence of this mosque as a welcome addition to our town.

Unfortunately, there always seems to be a minority that tries to exert their will through violent and extremist means. We, as members of the Huntington religious community, know that violence against any one of us is violence against us all. The free expression of religious practice is central to who we are as Americans. We condemn all who seek to silence the worship of our neighbors. I urge the police and town officials to continue to do everything possible to prevent and prosecute hate crimes to protect the safe practice of faith that we hold dear.

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