Readers Write: Embracing Muslims who are part of our community

Readers Write: Embracing Muslims who are part of our community

I am so very saddened by the tragic loss of so many beautiful fellow human beings at two mosques in New Zealand, the latest of far too many hate crimes committed against civil society and greater humanity.

This horrible, senseless tragedy must be condemned in the strongest possible terms and critical steps must be taken toward preventing the likes from happening again. Words cannot convey my deep sorrow for a terrorist act committed by a crazed, Godless white-supremacist animal. I mourn for the victims, their families, friends and communities.

For several years I’ve contributed to Yeshiva University’s Prism: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators.

I am fortunate to collaborate with Francine Mayran, a French artist, psychiatrist, and expert at the council of Europe on the Holocaust and genocide, and with the staff of Prism.

This has been an invaluable learning experience for me. This latest terrorist, who must remain nameless, as with all extremists and terrorists, is on the path to genocide if the plans of such crazed individuals were to have their swagger and sway. Do I believe they are limited in number or scope? No. They are a constant, if not on the rise, and must be prevented.

My understanding goes back to Timothy McVeigh, who slaughtered people I knew in the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, and with lynchings still occurring when I lived in Texas and Oklahoma. Racism has a shameful legacy in our great country’s history that extends in a long ignominious line form the present day to before the Civil War, and is alive and kicking to this day.

I clearly recall George Wallace, the former governor of Georgia, being a staunch racist and segregationist, campaigning for president on a platform of “shipping all blacks back to Africa,” and supported the policies of Jim Crow during the Civil Rights Movement, in his 1963 inaugural address ardently declaring “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

There have been recent white supremacist murders in Charlottesville, at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, a mosque in Canada, as well as throughout Europe.

Supremacists come in all races and colors. Colin Ferguson, who ravaged my L.I. commuter train, was a racist and terrorist. So too were the 9/11 hijackers, the Boston Marathon bombers, and others who support radical ideologies.

None of these individuals or groups must be overlooked. Importantly, we must not become blind to homegrown varieties.

I am saddened for my Muslim community.

For the fear they must feel, for the uncertainty of not feeling safe, of having to look over one’s shoulder as a regular daily experience.

However, they must not become scapegoats for societies nor the world’s many ills. This is what terrorism accomplishes all too well — the fragmentation and polarization of civil society, the pitting of neighbor against neighbor for ill ends, it succeeds by provoking these same ends.

The Muslims I know are community oriented. The Muslims I know are family oriented. Their children attended high school with my children. They were and are among the top performers of their classes.

The local Hillside Islamic Center has been a generous supporter of my running club’s local annual USA Track & Field LI Division race.

Several years ago, their Imam and about 30 HIC volunteers and walkers participated in the event. They support local Boy Scout troops, as well as the Nassau County Firefighter’s Operation Wounded Warrior program. These are the Muslims I know.

They are part of my community and I am proud to welcome them.

Stephen Cipot

Garden City Park


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