The general secretary of the National Council of Churches will be among the religious leaders addressing a 2 p.m. rally in Times Square Sunday to protest Congressional hearings aimed at investigating Muslims in the United States.
The hearings are organized by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Homeland Security committee. Critics say the hearings on Islam are reminiscent of McCarthyism and will tend to “demonize” Muslims.
The March 6 rally, meeting under the banner, “I Am A Muslim, Too,” is expected to be attended by more than 75 interfaith, nonprofit, governmental and civil liberties groups. The invitation to address the rally came from Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, known for his association with Cordoba House, and the American Society for Muslim Advancement.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, NCC general secretary, has been at the forefront of activities supporting the freedom of religion for all U.S. residents, including Muslims who have been targets of anti-Islam discrimination and open attacks for years, especially in the decade following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Last year Kinnamon defended the building of the Cordoba Community Center and Mosque in downtown Manhattan, and helped organize an interfaith summit to protest a threat by a Florida church to burn the Quran.
In earlier statements, Kinnamon strongly affirmed religious liberty and tolerance for all groups. “We are made richer and deeper in our Christian community by our relationship with Muslim and Jewish groups.”
Also participating in the rally is musician Russell Simons, who said, “As invested Americans, we acknowledge the important work of the Congressional Committee on Homeland Security. However, we’re concerned the hearings will send the wrong message and alienate American Muslims instead of partnering with them, potentially putting their lives at risk by inciting fear and enmity.”
Last year, Kinnamon said the chain of prejudice in the U.S. needs to be broken.
“The alternative … is to engage in a bigotry that will scar our generation in the same way as bigotry scarred our forebears,” he said in comments supporting the building of Cordoba House.
“Three-hundred years ago, European settlers came to these shores with a determination to conquer and settle at the expense of millions of indigenous peoples who were regarded as sub-human savages. Today, we can’t look back on that history without painful contrition.
“One-hundred and fifty years ago, white Americans subjugated black Africans in a cruel slavery that was justified with Bible proof-texts and a belief that blacks were inferior to whites. Today, we look back on that history with agonized disbelief.
“Sixty years ago, in a time of war and great fear, tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans were deprived of their property and forced into detention camps because our grandparents feared everyone of Japanese ancestry. Today that decision is universally regarded as an unconscionable mistake and a blot on American history.
“Today, millions of Muslims are subjected to thoughtless generalizations, open discrimination and outright hostility because of the actions of a tiny minority whose violent acts defy the teachings of Mohammed.
“How will we explain our ignorance and our compliance to our grandchildren?”