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Interfaith Coalition in Connecticut Condemns Terrorism and Islamophobia

Nov 20, 2015

"They are running from terrorism. They are the ones who are suffering just like the people in Paris from the violence."
Ghoufran Albabdidi

On Friday, an interfaith coalition gathered at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to condemn terrorism and Islamophobia after last weekend's Paris attacks. 

The Connecticut chapter of the Council of American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, organized the event.

Mongi Dhaouadi is the group's executive director.

"These terrorist groups don't represent our faith, do not represent our community. And so we want to make that clear to everyone who keeps saying that we don't hear enough from the Muslim community. We say it and we say it over and over again," Dhaouadi said. 

Ghoufran Albabdidi is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born and raised in Syria. She said Americans should not fear that Syrian refugees could be terrorists.

"They are running from terrorism. They are the ones who are suffering just like the people in Paris from the violence. And many, many Syrians have been killed because of ISIS," Albabdidi said. 

Dhaouadi said after the terrorist attacks, there's always backlash against Muslims. He pointed to the mosque in Meriden that was shot several times in the hours right after the Paris attacks.

Ghoufran Albabdidi is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born and raised in Syria.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Dhaouadi said CAIR has asked local police to increase patrols at all mosques and other places of worship in Connecticut.

"To serve two things: one is to deter any other act of violence against our community and against our houses of worship. But also to serve as a calming force, a reassuring force to our community that law enforcement takes the safety and security of our community very seriously," Dhaouadi said. 

Local police turned over the investigation of the mosque shooting to the FBI in New Haven. On Friday, its spokesperson Marybeth Miklos said, "As a result of our ongoing investigation, we believe that this was an isolated incident and there is no outstanding threat to the community associated with the shooting. The criminal investigation into this incident is ongoing." 

Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of CAIR, speaks at a press event Friday in Hartford.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The ACLU of Connecticut also attended the press event. 

"Make no mistake: this is a critical point for the American culture, our values, and civil liberties," said David McGuire, the group's legislative and policy director. "History has shown in the U.S. that there tends to be an overreaction and pull back of our civil rights and liberties after attacks like that happened in Paris last week."

Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of CAIR, speeks at a press event Friday in Hartford.
Credit Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Mui Mui Hin-McCormick, executive director of Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission, said history has shown what fear can do to a nation. 

"The Asian community continues to see direct impact of this fear. From the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s where 120,000 Japanese-Americans were stripped of their freedom. To September 11, 2001, 9/11, where South Asians were and continue to be seen as a threat or seen less than on so many levels," she said. "Being American is not determined by your race, ethnicity, gender, age or religion."