Muslim, Jewish and Christian community leaders stood side by side Wednesday in Mineola in solidarity against President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting the entry of immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim nations.
The travel ban affecting one ethnic group or religion, they said, runs counter to American and religious values.
“The executive order issued by President Trump last week, banning refugees from those countries, violates core American beliefs in equality, tolerance and justice,” said Malik Nadeem Abid, a Valley Stream businessman who is New York Chapter president of American Muslim Voice, a civil rights advocacy group. “We should not turn our back to refugees based on their religious belief.”
The crowd of about 20 people outside the entrance of the Supreme Court in Nassau County included several elected officials — all Democrats — and staff, among them District Attorney Madeline Singas, state Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), Nassau Legis. Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) and Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove). Curran on Monday won the backing of the county Democratic leadership as its nominee for Nassau County executive.
Like Singas, all affirmed their immigrant heritage, as she stated that “. . . we welcome the beautiful diversity that makes up our communities” in Nassau County.
The gathering was mostly a show of unity across faiths, race and ethnicity. Christians and Jews alike spoke in support of Muslims, saying American tradition and their beliefs call on them to “welcome the stranger.”
The Rev. Dyanne Pina, executive director of the Long Island Council of Churches, an interfaith group, said it’s hard to believe that the turn in American political discourse is actually taking place.
“The United States is a country built on the strength of its strangers” who came “fleeing their homeland out of fear,” Pina said. “The temporary ban on immigrants is a temporary ban on humanity.”
The executive order, issued Friday as a measure that the administration said would protect the United States from would-be terrorists, suspended refugee admissions and placed more scrutiny on immigrants and visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, all majority-Muslim nations.
Travelers coming to the United States from those and other countries in the Middle East and Africa have found themselves detained or were made to turn back to their homelands from airports since Saturday — leading immigrant and civil rights advocates to call the order a “Muslim ban” that violates constitutional protections.
Messages from Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) and Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) indicated their opposition to the ban.
Rabbi Art Vernon, of the Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in West Hempstead, said he is part of a new effort in response to unite local Jews, Christians and Muslims under an umbrella organization that will advocate on common issues, to be called Children of Abraham.
“It is time to expand on the definition of religious America,” Vernon said, and “to promote interreligious understanding . . . and break some of the silos in which we’re living.”
Several Muslim community members said they are grateful for the demonstrations and expressions of support at a critical time for their community.
Shafiq Saddiqui, of the Queens-based Muslim Coalition of New York, said it has been “very hard” to come to terms with Trump’s policy and pronouncements.
“After 32 years of living in the country, my children asked me: ‘Are we Americans?’ ” Saddiqui said.
His answer: “We the people, we love America. This is our country.”