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State Senator

Saud Anwar

Representing East Hartford, Ellington, East Windsor and South Windsor

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Senator Anwar Brings Political and Religious Leaders Together to Unite Against Hatred

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State Senator Saud Anwar addresses an interfaith gathering at the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford; Political and religious leaders address hundreds at a gathering against hate at the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford.

BERLIN, CT – State Senator Saud Anwar (D-South Windsor) led a coalition of dozens of political and religious leaders at the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford (Berlin Masjid) in Berlin on Sunday to come together in the face of hatred and discuss how faith communities can come together and embrace each other in light of tragedy, and how to better protect places of worship against acts of violence. Sunday’s collective was in response to the March 15 terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand against two mosques that left at least 50 dead and many more wounded. A crowd of hundreds filled the mosque to hear their messages of togetherness and resilience in the face of adversity.

Sen. Anwar joined elected officials including Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Representative John Larson, State Senators Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) and Matt Lesser (D-Middletown), State Representative Jillian Gilchrest (D-West Hartford) and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, all of whom spoke in support of coming together as one united community, and who spoke out against the evils of hatred and white supremacy.

Religious leaders who spoke included Dr. Reza Mansoor, president of the IAGH, Imam Refai Arefin of the IAGH, Reverend Laura Westby of the Kensington Congregational Church, Rabbi Herbert Brockman of the Hamden Synagogue, Father Michael Dolan of the Archdiocese of Hartford, Dr. Joel Lohr, president of the Hartford Seminary, and Pyari Mohan of the Hindu faith. Further officials included representatives from the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, the Council for Inter-Religious Understanding, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Voice for Peace and the Council of American Islamic Relations Connecticut.

“When people are attacked based on their appearance or their faith in their places of worship, it is a time of reflection for all humans to consider how we got to this point,” said Sen. Anwar. “Love, care and unity are what define us. Standing united is the only way we can face the challenges brewing in our societies.”

“As community members, and as members of the government, we are here to say we stand up against hate and intolerance,” said Lt. Gov. Bysiewicz. “We are better than that. I am here to say our state is a state that welcomes everyone, regardless of religion and ethnic background. We welcome you, we love you, we stand with you and we will do everything in our power as government leaders to make sure everyone in our state is safe.”

“We stand with you in solidarity,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “We are with the Muslim community in being, in spirit and in heart. We will protect rights in this state and in this country from the growing rise of hatred and violence. All that is needed for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. We’re here for all people: For the victims of Charleston, the victims of the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, for the victims of New Zealand and for all the victims of gun violence.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can. And hatred cannot be driven out by hate, only love can,” said Rep. Larson in quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “Not only must we come together in unity and harmony to drive out the darkness and hatred, but we must act.”

Sen. Kushner discussed her first experience entering a mosque and related it to her own experiences growing up in the only Jewish family in her small Iowa hometown. “We’re here to say we’re in this together. We’re not going to abandon each other. There are many more of us than there are of them. We can’t get complacent. We have to come together all the time.”

“I’m here to cry with you, mourn with you and stand with you against this act of hatred, violence and intolerance,” said Sen. Lesser, who noted his wife grew up blocks away from the Tree of Life synagogue. “Just as after that horrific and unspeakable act of violence we came together as a community to reject hate, after this act of horrific violence, we must do the same. This isn’t us. This doesn’t stand for us. No matter how you pronounce the name of God, we are all children of God. We are all brothers and sisters.”

“Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and immigrant hatred are sown from the same cloth of insecurity and ignorance,” said Dr. Mansoor. “Our hearts are broken after Christchurch as they were after the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre and the Charleston church shooting. We cannot equivocate when we stand up against hate. It is not a small problem – it is a worldwide crisis that needs to be addressed as a war against terror.”

“We grieve the violence directed at Muslims everywhere, we acknowledge that we have not been clear and consistent in our efforts to condemn it, and we humbly stand with you today as together we condemn white supremacy and declare this is the truth about us: we are one,” said Reverend Westby.

“We are our brother’s keeper,” said Rabbi Brockman, comparing white supremacy to an outbreak of disease. “It is an epidemic and there is no vaccine. The only antidote there is is that we stand together as the antidote.”

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