Connecticut: religious coalition to protest ‘Muslim bashing’

Stamford, Connecticut — As the country debates the construction of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, local religious leaders are banding together to protest what they see as increasing anti-Islamism both nationwide and within the community. “A lot of the public Muslim-bashing rhetoric has been getting to me,” said Kate Heichler, president of the InterFaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut. “It’s time to do something.”

The InterFaith Council, which seeks to promote conversation and collaboration among faith communities in lower Fairfield County, will host a vigil Tuesday night as a public display of support for the Muslim community. Religious leaders from local Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities will participate and a representative from Mayor Michael Pavia’s administration is expected to attend.

Joshua Hammerman, a rabbi at Temple Beth El in Stamford, said he plans to participate. “I think it’s really important that the Jewish community be represented because it’s in our interest here, in Israel and worldwide to reach out to our Islamic brothers and sisters across the divide,” Hammerman said. “We have much to share, much in common among our faiths.”

A recent protest outside a mosque in Bridgeport was one of several events that inspired tomorrow’s vigil, Heichler said. On Aug. 6, members of the Christian group Operation Save America, which is based in Texas, gathered outside Masjid An-Noor mosque on Fairfield Avenue and yelled insults at worshippers.

Connecticut Post, 22 August 2010