Fighting Islamophobia

HARTFORD – A church in Florida is organizing a burn the Quran day on Sept. 11. And in response to the plan for a mosque near Ground Zero, a Christian gospel outreach group has protested at Connecticut mosques this week, calling Islam a lie.

Dr. Reza Mansoor, president of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut, says these are examples of how Islamophobia is “spreading wildly in this country.”

Rabia Chaudry speaks at a Hartford rally/Tracy Simmons - CreedibleOn Friday, only a few days into Ramadan (the Islamic month of fasting), more than 36 organizations sponsored a rally in Hartford on Islamophobia and religious intolerance.

“We are here to live the American dream,” Mansoor said to an interfaith crowd of more than 100 people.

Mansoor said part of that dream is the right to practice one’s faith with integrity, adding that the Christian extremists that have reared their heads are trying to hijack that freedom.

Operation Save America of Connecticut protested outside of a Bridgeport mosque this week and has said they don’t plan to stop evangelizing there anytime soon.

In Florida, Dove World Outreach Center is trying to organize “International Burn the Quran Day” and has referred to Islam as a religion of the devil.

Rabbi Eric Silver, recently retired from Temple Beth David in Cheshire, compared the book burning to the 1933 book burning of “un-German texts.” That hateful act, Silver said, ultimately lead to the Holocaust. He urged the crowd to show their opposition to this “symbolic deed,” before history repeats itself.

He also spoke out in favor of building a mosque near Ground Zero.

“Muslims have a right to worship at Ground Zero as much as people of any faith do,” he said. “To say that all Muslims, particularly American Muslims, are somehow linked to Sept. 11 … is saying they’re not as American as the rest of us. I cannot accept that.”

Rev. Shelley D. Best, president and CEO of the Connecticut Conference of Churches, also defended the Muslim community.

A man rallies against Islamophobia in Hartford/Tracy Simmons - Creedible

“If we let one group of people be hated, we will all be harmed,” she said. “Phobias must be healed in this land.”

Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of CAIR-CT, said these hateful events and ideas are an opportunity for Muslims in Connecticut to build bridges with people of all faiths. “It’s time for us to reclaim the eternal message of all religions – the message of peace.”

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