Boston: interfaith group rallies against anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence

A group of local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders gathered at the State House yesterday to decry what they described as anti-Islamic rhetoric and violence fueled by the controversy over the proposed mosque near ground zero in New York.

The speakers, who included a rabbi, a Catholic priest, a Quaker, several Protestant ministers, and a Muslim leader, likened the recent stabbing of a Muslim cabdriver in New York City and plans by a Protestant Florida pastor to burn a Koran to the persecution of religious dissidents in Colonial-era Boston. The leaders asked the crowd of more than 100 to place stones at the foot of a statue on the State House lawn of Mary Dyer, a Quaker whom the Puritans hanged in 1660 for defying a law banning Quakers from the colony.

“We cannot and will not remain silent in the face of the surge of fear about, and threats against, Islam and Muslim-Americans,” said the Rev. Nancy S. Taylor of Old South Church, a United Church of Christ congregation in Boston’s Back Bay.

Several speakers likened the opposition to the mosque in New York to the persecution their own faiths endured in the past. Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Temple Shalom in Newton recalled that, 60 years ago, when his congregation tried to purchase land to build a synagogue, attempts were made to stop the sale.

And the Rev. Walter Cuenin, the Catholic chaplain at Brandeis, called on Boston Catholics to remember their forebears were persecuted by Protestants.

Boston Globe, 8 September 2010