Holding candles, several faith leaders, community activists and representatives of Nassau County legislature gathered outside the county executive building in Minneola on a frosty Friday evening (Jan 1) to express solidarity with the Muslim community.
“On the first day of 2016, we are here to show to fellow Americans that the American Muslim community condemns terrorism,” Pakistani community activist Ali Akbar Mirza, the organizer of the vigil, told participants who represented the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Spanish communities. Mirza reminded fellow Americans that the rising incidence of anti-Muslim sentiment was un-American and holding the community responsible for the violent actions of few individuals in the name of religion was wrong.
“Muslims are patriotic Americans,” he told the small gathering who showed up in bitter cold. Many of the participants were holding placards inscribed with slogans such as “Muslims are the #1 victims of terrorism”, “We are American Muslims” etc.
Those present included: DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature; Adam Haber (represented Jewish Community); Beena Kothari, President of Indian Association of Long Island (Represented Hindu Community); Satnam Singh Parhar (represented Sikh Community); Milagros Vicente (represented the Hispanic Community); Mimi Pierre Johnson (represented the Black Community); Maulana Sakhawat Hussain Sandralvi, Rizwan Qureishi and Shan Hameed represented the Muslim Community, Mary Mareno represented the white community.
Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory in his brief remarks endorsed Mirza’s opinion, saying Muslim Americans were just like any other ordinary fellow countryman serving the nation in different capacities. He said there was no place for bigotry and intolerance in American values and reaffirmed his support to the Muslim community.
“I am Jewish and I want to say that we are united against fear and intolerance,”Adam Haber told the small gathering holding candles in bitter cold.
Speakers representing the Spanish, Hindu and Sikh communities expressed their determination to defeat the divisive forces promoting bigotry through greater unity and by supporting each other, especially the Muslim community. Representatives of Long Island-based Pakistani community organizations showed up in large numbers.
Mirza especially acknowledged the US military and civil law enforcement agencies, especially police for protecting Americans from harm. At the end, noted Islamic scholar Dr Sakhawat Hussain Sandralvi lead prayer for peace, unity and intolerance.