NCRR to Hold Vigil to Support Muslim Americans in Little Tokyo

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Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress (NCRR) and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), in cooperation with the Japanese American National Museum and other groups invite the community to come out to the plaza in front of the museum on Thursday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m., to show support for Muslim Americans.
NCRR also released a statement condemning what they said are attempts to scapegoat Muslim Americans as terrorist sympathizers and attack the Islamic religion by politicians and right-wing commentators such as Sara Palin and Newt Gingrich.

“This ignorance and fear is also reflected in the growing opposition to the building of mosques in places such as Manhattan, Nashville and Temecula.  Mosques are being described as dangerous and threatening to the ‘American’ way of life and Islam is even being maligned as a religion “of the devil” by religious zealots, such as Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida who plans to burn the Quran on 9/11,” NCRR stated.

“NCRR encourages Japanese Americans and all Americans to speak out against anti-Muslim lies and attacks.  At a speech given several years ago, Dr. Maher Hathout, a Muslim American leader, said ‘as long as there is one candle lit, there is no darkness.’  Speaking symbolically, he was referring to the struggle of the Palestinian people against occupation — that as long as there was even one person willing to struggle against injustice, there could not be total darkness or oppression.  In a similar spirit, NCRR hopes that many candles can be lit Sept. 9, to show the American people’s commitment to the truth — not lies and distortions – and for justice, peace, religious freedom and equality — precious values that we hold dear,” said NCRR.

Nine years ago, days after Sept. 11, NCRR, along with other organizations including the Japanese American Citizens League PSW, the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, the Japanese American National Museum and the Little Tokyo Service Center CDC, sponsored a candlelight vigil in Little Tokyo to remember the victims of 9/11 and to speak in defense of Arab Americans, Muslim Americans and Southeast Asians who were being maligned as terrorists, physically attacked and even murdered in places such as Arizona.

“Japanese Americans remember all too well how it feels to be a community singled out with suspicion, marginalized and viciously attacked by the media.  Despite many efforts to show their loyalty to this country, Japanese were not trusted as reflected in General DeWitt’s statements: ‘A Jap is a Jap’ and “I have no confidence in their loyalty whatsoever.”  The constant barrage of lies in the media became accepted as truth by the American public. Only a few groups like the American Friends Service Committee and courageous individuals were willing to speak up for the Japanese,” stated NCRR.

“Although the situation is not as dire for Muslim Americans now as it was for Japanese Americans during World War II, NCRR is concerned that the climate of intolerance and fear being created could, under certain circumstances, lead to the stripping of civil liberties and religious freedom for Muslim Americans.  Even worse is the violence resulting from such ignorance, such as the stabbing in New York last month of a 44-year-old taxi driver after his passenger asked if he was a Muslim.”

For more information, contact NCRR at (213) 284-0336.  The vigil will start at 7:30 p.m. and will include several speakers, with the entire program lasting one hour.

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