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Rally at Selden mosque draws opponents of Trump travel ban

A crowd of nearly 75 people gathered Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017 outside the Islamic Association of Long Island mosque in Selden to protest President Donald Trump's administration and support the Muslim community. The protest comes a month after Trump's Jan. 27 executive order restricting entry of non-U.S. citizens from seven Islamic-majority countries. Credit: James Carbone

Long Islanders banded together across religious and ethnic lines Sunday to show solidarity for minority communities they say are threatened under President Donald Trump’s administration.

On Sunday morning, a crowd of nearly 75 people gathered outside the Islamic Association of Long Island mosque in Selden to support the Muslim community. They said they will continue to hold monthly vigils until they see change.

“We are all one, we are all people,” said organizer Ruth Cohen, 78, of Lake Grove. “We don’t deserve to be vilified because of who we are and what we believe in.”

The protest comes a month after Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order restricting entry of non-U.S. citizens from seven Islamic-majority countries, although that order — which the president said was in order to keep terrorists from entering the country — has been held up in courts.

Asma Hosein, 15, attended with her mother and younger brother, hoisting a sign that read, “United we stand.”

Hosein said that rallies have become a new routine in her life.

“It’s very tragic that not only do Muslims get attacked, but also non-Muslims,” Asma, of Selden, said. “As a Muslim-American, it’s my responsibility and my duty to do the same and stand with my non-Muslim family and friends.”

Asma’s mother, Aleema Hosein, said that the outpouring of community support meant everything to the Muslim community, and she compared the current climate to the atmosphere of fear and hostility after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

“You’re almost afraid to see what’s happening today. What are we facing today? What might happen with our community today?” Hosein, 40, said. “It’s kind of like living on eggshells.”

Other attendees said that they just started attending protests, compelled by the current political state.

Selden resident Amber Terranova, 24, said she believed it was the younger generation’s responsibility to unite and speak out.

“Now, more than ever before, it’s important to come together,” Terranova said. “Especially the youth; we are the future.”

Residents also attended two interfaith panels on Sunday: one at B’nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale, and another at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church in Wyandanch.

More than 100 people attended the Wyandanch meeting, which focused on countering bigotry on Long Island. Faith leaders discussed the importance of solidarity and urged attendees to build bridges with their neighbors.

Audience members questioned how best to foster community amid many differences, on both individual levels and beyond. Dr. Hafiz Ur Rehman, Suffolk County human rights commissioner, said it was necessary to get beyond politics and faith.

“We’ve got to get to the human aspect of things,” said Ur Rehman, who spoke of experiencing routine interrogations by customs officials at airports despite being the proud owner of a “beautiful U.S. passport.”

Pastor Bill Brisotti of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church said that individuals had to keep being “salt and light,” adding that houses of worship should continue to be safe gathering places to “overcome the profound ignorance of our time.”

“All over Suffolk County, there are more and more people who are standing up and saying no to hate,” said Rabbi Steven Moss of B’nai Israel. “We are the real army, we are the real warriors.”

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