Stand Against Islamophobia in Westchester

mid-August an advertisement vilifying Islam was placed on Metro-North train platforms.  By signing and endorsing this letter, we the people, political leaders, community organizers, and clergy of Westchester wish to express our solidarity with the Muslim community. We affirm our respect for all religious traditions and reject the ethnic and religious bigotry that this vicious ad so ominously expresses.


The source of the ad is the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) run by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Geller and Spencer are national leaders in some of the many U.S. campaigns to malign Islam.  Despite AFDI’s name, its websites publish a broad array of anti-Islamic materials that are widely used by right-wing, extremist organizations.  Anders Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist who in August 2011 at a youth camp killed seventy-seven of his compatriots, quoted Geller among anti-Muslim activists in the manifesto that he posted shortly before the killings. The respected Southern Poverty Law Center lists Stop Islamization of America, a group co-founded by Geller and Spencer, as a “hate group.”  

The headline of the ad says “19,250 Deadly Islamic Attacks Since 9/11/2001.”  It ends with: “It’s Not Islamophobia,  It’s Islamorealism.”  The ad encourages us to think of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center as the work of Muslims rather than of terrorists.  The figure “19,250” counts the number of deadly attacks by and/or against Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other predominantly Muslim countries. The ad attempts to deceive readers by turning into perpetrators those who are actually victims of the tragic conflicts in the Middle East and West Asia.  It demonizes Muslims and must be universally condemned. 

We see this anti-Islamic ad campaign in the context of a post-9/11 atmosphere of fear, hate, and bigotry that targets Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners, Sikhs and other South Asians. The increase in hate groups and hate speech in the United States does not reflect simply “individual” sentiments.  From arson attacks on mosques to police infiltration of Islamic religious organizations, the spread of Islamophobia in the United States is a growing danger that calls on all people of good will to speak out and take action. 

Muslims have experienced numerous violent attacks and harassment in the last few weeks: the burning to the ground of a mosque in Missouri; the firing of an air rifle at the Muslim Education Center in Illinois while 500 people were praying; the throwing of a homemade bomb at a Muslim school in Illinois and a Muslim home in Florida; harassment by teens of worshipers at a California mosque; and the vandalism and desecration of mosques, including recently on Staten Island.  The hatred of Muslims expressed in these acts and the common conflation of Sikhs with Muslims, along with anti-Sikh sentiment, contributed to the August attack by a white supremacist who killed six Sikhs at their gurudwara in suburban Milwaukee.
 
We the undersigned urge all residents of Westchester to take action to counter the threat that this ad represents.

• Discuss these issues with your family, friends, and colleagues and in your houses of worship. 
• Send letters to the local media and to Metro North expressing your concern and revulsion. 
• Propose that Metro North categorically distance itself from the ad and use any revenue from it to support an organization that combats extremism.  This can be done by going to http://mta.info/faqs.htm and following instructions to send an email message.
• Contact local and regional officials to get them to denounce hate speech and Islamophobia and to condemn this ad, as have Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner and the village board of Hastings-on-Hudson. 
• Call upon local communities of faith to assume their natural role in educating their congregations about the moral issues posed by the ad.
• Sign this letter.

Join with us in a county-wide effort to raise awareness, and gather with us in coming days at a public meeting and press conference to rally around our Muslim neighbors.

This letter was prepared by an ad hoc coalition of individuals and organizations whose names appear on the list below.  To add your own name or that of an organization or institution, please notify us that you wish to do so by emailing [email protected] . It would be helpful if individuals would indicate where they live (town, state). A request to add your signature implies a willingness to have your name appear publicly. When you email this address, please provide contact information if you wish to receive notification about the public meeting and plans for action.

Priscilla Read, Tarrytown, NY
Howard Horowitz, New Rochelle, NY
David Samel, Chappaqua, NY

Paul Feiner, Greenburgh Town Supervisor
Felice Gelman, Tarrytown, NY
Andrew Courtney, Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Julie Davis Carran, White Plains, NY
Lillian Rosengarten, Cold Spring, NY
Barbara Mair, Pleasantville, NY
Artie Alfreds, Hastings, NY
Laura and Michael Myerson, Cortlandt Manor, NY

Rev. Rachel Thompson, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Sarah Anderson, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Rev. John Collins, New Rochelle, NY

Dr. Sheila Collins, New Rochelle, NY

Joan Glickman, New Rochelle, NY

Farid Marjai, Ossining, NY

Elias Kassirer, New Paltz, NY

Howard Gilman, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Judith Tax, LCSW-R

Sara Silver

Leonard Andrew, Sleepy Hollow, NY

Donal Butterfield, NY, NY

Elizabeth Shanklin, Bronx, NY

Samuel Goldman

Carl Lundgren, Bronx, NY

Cora Miles, White Plains, NY

Eddy Fried, Cortlandt Manor, NY

Rev. Sarah Henkel, White Plains, NY

Prof. Ghassan Elias Karam, Pace University, Pleasantville, NY

Karen Levy, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Mark Lerner, White Plains, NY

Murray Beaver, New Rochelle, NY

Thomas G. Weiss, Tarrytown, NY

Monwara Hassan, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Mostafa Hassan, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Hugh Barbour, Sleepy Hollow, NY

Sara Lukose, Yorktown Heights, NY

Marjorie Dove Kent, NY, NY

Jane Hirschmann, NY, NY

Richard Levy, NY, NY

Annia Jaffa, Yonkers, NY

Rev. Dr. Paul Acorn, Bedford, NY

Rev. Dr. Hans B. Hallundbaek, Katonah, NY

Rev. Susan Andrews, Ossining, NY

Rev. Susan G. De George, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Lynne Teplin, Bronxville, NY

Robin Alpern, Peekskill, NY

Tony Scholl, Tarrytown, NY
Tracy Breneman, Montrose, NY

Henry Clifford, Essex, CT

Sheila Miller Bernson, Chappaqua, NY

Rev. Margaret E. Howland, Yonkers, NY

Armelle Gloaguen, Larchmont, NY

Barbara Simerka, Bronxville, NY

Jenny Murphy, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Ann Najam, Danbury, CT

Rev. Jeffrey A. Geary, White Plains, NY

David Glass, Larchmont, NY

Patricia Compton, Somers, NY

Joseph Diaferia, Yonkers, NY

Ahmed Kamal, NY, NY

Khaled M H Butt, MD, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Jamila K Butt, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Julie Weiner, Yonkers, NY

French Conway, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Hesham El-Meligy, Staten Island, NY
Bobbi Siegelbaum, Bronx, NY

James Cobb, Tarrytown, NY

Betty Ann Morton, Mount Vernon, NY
Mirene Ghossein, Manhattan, NY
Zead Ramadan, Bronx, NY
Jon Moscow and Patricia Sterner, Teaneck, NJ

Tracy Basile, Ossining, NY

Graciela Heymann, Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Alma Reyes Evans, MSW

Mary E. Lane, M.D., Tarrytown, NY

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Nyack, NY

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Brooklyn, NY

Ellen Sarna, Irvington, NY

Maureen Silverman, NY, NY

Elly Bulkin, Jersey City, NJ

Reggie and Kim Harris, Middleburgh, NY

Mary Yostos, Pleasantville, NY

Rev. Dr. Michael Tino, Mount Kisco, NY

Richard Cross, Tarrytown, NY

Tom Kissner, Port Chester, NY

Debbie and Naji Almontaser, Brooklyn, NY

Anne Elizabeth Wright, Hartsdale, NY

Rev. Carole Johannsen, BCC, Bedford Hills, NY

Sally Dunne, NY, NY

Lauren Goldrich, Brooklyn, NY

Madeleine Reichman, NY, NY

Fawzia Khan, Ossining, NY

James Dyson

Eleanor Ommani, Armonk, NY

Norma and Karl Stehle, Hewitt, NJ

Jay Gilbert, Hastings on Hudson, NY

Mary A. Walker

Betsy Todd, RN, Hastings on Hudson, NY

Sidney Callahan, Hastings on Hudson, NY

Mohammed Hossain, Raleigh, NC

Karen Tarapata, Nyack, NY

Eran Efrati, NY, NY

Sue Susman, NY, NY

Cecelia Lavan, New Rochelle, NY

Richard Reid

Anne Bowers, NY, NY

Anees Shaikh, Yorktown Heights, NY

Cynthia Idriss, Larchmont, NY

Angela Usobiaga, Pleasantville, NY

Kathleen Hill

Gabriel Alkon, NY, NY

Deborah Kair, Hartsdale, NY

Frank Brodhead, Hastings, NY

Joseph Henderson

Michael B. Ennes, Bronx, NY

Layla Patino, Dobbs Ferry, NY

Dave Lippman, Teaneck, NJ

Kamran Ali, Fort Lee, NJ

Donna Nevel, NY, NY

Alan Levine, NY, NY

Jerise Fogel, NY, NY

David and Ann Loretan, Ossining, NY

Linda Snider, CFOW

Marcia L. Westra, LCSW

Emily Hill, Astoria, NY

Marilyn Robinson, Walsenburg, CO

Mohammad Abdelhadi, North Bergen, NJ

Catherine Pisacano, West Village, NYC

Jay Albrecht, PhD

Elizabeth Gilmore

Tony and Martha Cordelli, White Plains, NY

Mohamed A Ishmael

Janet Doeden Hansen, NY, NY

Irene Jong

Erin Malloy

Diggitt McLaughlin, Student Minister, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, MN

Naseem Jamali, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Becky Aleman, Brooklyn, NY

Katie Goldstein, Brooklyn, New York

Cynthia Greenberg, Vice Chair of JVP, Brooklyn, NY

Gabriel Arkles, Acting Assistant Professor of Lawyering, NYU School of Law

Carol Marsh, Putnam Valley, NY

Diane Stein, NY, NY

Tami Claytor, New York, NY

Ann Marie Najam, Danbury, CT

Donald Moore, Bronx, NY

Rabbi Michael Feinberg, NY, NY

Melissa Extein, Brooklyn, NY

Sarah Gunther, Brooklyn, NY

Nance Shatzkin, Croton-on-Hudson, NY

Louise Derzansky

Soofia Rahman, Airmont, NY

Elizabeth Felber, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Bob Lamm, NY, NY

Arthur Grant, Chappaqua, NY

Kathy Casey

Anne-Marie McIntyre, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Sandy Bernabei, AntiRacist Alliance

Sharon Kivowitz, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Elizabeth Baird Saenger, Mamaroneck, NY

Chris Hansen-Nelson, NY, NY

Muneer Awad, NY, NY

Darlene Zackson, White Plains, NY

Lynn Kelly, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

Leslie Mardenborough, New Rochelle, NY

Zehra F. K. Arat, Port Chester, NY

Eileen B. Weiss, Same Difference Interfaith Alliance, Jews Against Genocide

Nick Berezansky, Ridgewood, NJ

Blauvelt Dominican Sisters Social Justice Committee

Concerned Families of Westchester

Council on American-Islamic Relations, New York Chapter

Westchester Youth Alliance

JVP – National

JVP – Westchester

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)

Muslim Consultative Network (MCN)

Westchester Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute for Nonviolence

Westchester Hispanic Coalition

Jews Against Islamophobia

Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, Nyack, NY

Jews Say No

Interfaith Connection

Islamic Civic Association – NY

Connie Hogarth Center for Social Action at Manhattanville College

American Iranian Friendship Committee

Muslims for Liberty – NY

Dutchess Peace   http://www.dutchesspeace.org

Middle East Crisis Response http://www.mideastcrisis.org

Council on American-Islamic Relations, NY

WESPAC Foundation

 

Posted in Movement Building