Public officials and religious leaders from Long Island stood together in solidarity to denounce a recent string of hate crimes in the city, which have been directed against members of the jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths.
The rally took place at a mosque recently targeted fro a hate crime.
Reports of bias incidents against a broad spectrum of religious symbols and houses of worship have spread across Long Island and beyond, including recent crimes at the Noor Mosque on Park Avenue in Huntington were a man was charged with a hate crime for throwing a container of white concrete sealer into the driveway of the mosque on 31 December 2011.
State Assemblyman Andrew Raia, R-Huntington, said Jews, Christians and Muslims are all facing a rise in hate crimes.
"The only way to combat this is to join together in solidarity," Raia said.
Condemning the crimes on behalf of the Huntington Town Board, Supervisor Frank Petrone said society has not accepted that we are one people that believe in living in peace and harmony.
"If it's a mosque today, it's a temple tomorrow, it's a church the next day. People that hate have no self respect," said Petrone. "We stand with you. You're a peaceful group here at this mosque. You're adding something special to the town and we will not let you stand by yourself."
Petrone noted a recent string of recent hate crimes in Long Island. The litany of hate crimes reported in the metropolitan area includes: â¢An outdoor menorah desecrated on Gerhard Road in Plainview on the last day of the Festival of Lights, on either Dec. 26-27.
â¢That same week, graffiti was scrawled on buildings along Sea Cliff's Main Avenue near St. Boniface School. Detectives said swastikas, the marijuana reference: â420,â the Klu Klux Klan moniker âWhite Knightâ and the letters âWKâ were discovered.
â¢A statue of the Infant Jesus disappeared from the Nativity scene in front of St. Mary's Church in Roslyn Harbor on Dec. 30.
â¢The following week in Sea Cliff, another swastika was drawn in black marker on a Glen Avenue resident's garage door.
â¢In Great Neck, swastikas were scratched into a 1998 Mercedes Benz parked at the ï»¿Babylonian Jewish Center , sometime overnight on Jan. 6-7. Members of the Jewish community including Rabbi Ian Silverman of the East Northport Jewish Center and Rabbi Steven Moss, co-chair of county's human rights commission said they stand in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters.
"Say no to hate and yes to peace and harmony in the community," said Moss.
"This is hate and the only way we can face it is head on," said Silverman.
"It is incumbent upon public figures, religious leaders and educators to speak out against acts of vandalism in general and vandalism directed at religious institutions," said Rabbi David Ross Senter, spiritual leader of Plainview's Manetto Hill Jewish Center, who said the United States has had a long history of preserving religious rights and freedoms championed by leaders ranging from George Washington and Abraham Lincoln to Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
Their statements were echoed by community leaders and clergymen across Long Island and beyond.
"Hate crimes are affecting many communities on Long Island and in Suffolk County this type of crime has become to commonplace, including a nationally recognized incident which ended the life of Latino immigrant Marcelo Lucero," said Dr. Mamoon Iqbal, a member of the Masjid Noor Mosque.
Huntington African-American religious leaders including Rev. Luonne Rouse of the United Methodist Minister and Rev. Larry Jennings of the Bethel AME Church expressed joy in the diversity of the group gathered at the mosque.
"I take joy in the fact that we are standing from the various communities to represent religious liberty," said Jennings.
"It's joy to stand in solidarity with you today to declare unto those in the Town of Huntington who think it's all right to harm houses of worship, that we stand against such action," said Jennings.
Rev. Mark Bigelow of the Congregation Church in Centerport condemned the violence expressed against the Noor Mosque in a community as diverse as Long Island.
"We hope to be able to support each other in times like this to find ways that we may all express our faith," said Bigelow. "When one religious community is harmed, we all are," said Bigelow.
Others on hand included Rev. Jo Anne Barrett, co-chair Suffolk County Anti-Bias Task Force, Father Charles McCarron, pastor of St. Lawrence of Canterbury in South Huntington, Pastor Rebecca Segars of Sweet Hollow Presbyterian Church, Ed Perez of the Friends of Huntington Station Latin Quarter and representatives from the Suffolk County Police Department.
Rich Jacques, "Hate Crimes Denounced in Huntington" Half Hollows Hills news January 20 2012
"Wave of Hate Crimes Sparking Action, Resolve" Huntington Patch January 20, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today