On Thursday, April 6, a broad-based NYC coalition of 75 civil rights, religious and community groups, including AALDEF, will hold a press conference in front of City Hall, criticizing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bias of speakers scheduled to testify at Friday’s hearing of the New York State Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs. The hearing is entitled “Reviewing our Preparedness: An Examination of New York’s Public Protection Ten Years After September 11.”
The coalition criticized the inappropriate addition of “Sharia Law” discussion into homeland security concerns, the virulently anti-immigrant agenda of some speakers, the exclusion of balancing perspectives from community and mainstream academic sources, and the overall politicization of disaster preparedness policy making.
The coalition applauded State Senators Tony Avella, Kevin Parker, Adriano Espaillat, Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Liz Krueger, Velmanette Montgomery, Jose Peralta, Bill Perkins, Gustavo Rivera, Diane Savino, and Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who already issued statements sharing the coalition’s concerns.
The coalition remained concerned, however, that unlike the King Hearings, this Senate Committee has no plan to balance testimony with bipartisanship and testimony from representative voices from immigrant and Muslim leadership.
Immigrant rights activist Betsy Palmieri stated: “The upcoming tenth anniversary of the terror attack should be a time of healing as well as preparedness. The targeting of vulnerable immigrant and religious communities does not fit this spirit of inclusiveness and makes partnership more difficult. I ask my State Senator Ball to stop demonizing immigrants in the name of security.”
Added Elaine Brower, Peace Action of Staten Island and Coalition to Stop Islamophobia member, and mother of a veteran of three combat tours; “What happened to us on September 11, 2011 cannot be blamed on the American Muslim communities and targeting this religion as a homeland security threat is not only unconstitutional but immoral.”
Added press conference co-organizer Adem Carroll, as organizer of the Muslim Progressive-Traditionalist Alliance: “The terrible repercussions of the burning of the Quran this past week are yet another reminder that hate speech and defamation can and do perpetuate a cycle of violence.”
A copy of the coalition’s letter to NY State Senator Greg Ball, chair of the homeland security committee, can be read here.