By Lyndon A. Bilal, MAVA National Commander
On Saturday, February 27, 2016, The Muslim American Veterans Association was invited to participate and speak at a national rally organized by Veterans for Peace (VFP). On this sunny, chilly, day over 200 military veterans and supporters gathered together in solidarity outside of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC) to let our voices be heard around the world that we will not be silent and relent to the rhetoric, and actions by others that threaten the life of innocent Muslim’s wherever they may be.
Pat Scanlan of the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace, organized this event and sent out communication to his national network stating “We as veterans who have served this country, will gather together to declare that Muslims are not the enemy. Violence directed toward Muslims in this country is unacceptable and un-American. We call for this verbal and physical harassment to end immediately”.
Imam Taalib Mahdee of Boston’s historic Masjid Al Qur’an helped to organize the event and was the first speaker. In his opening comments he remarked that the type of support being demonstrated at this event gives hope not only for the United States, but for all humanity, and that scripture reminds us “O’ believers, stand firmly for justice, as witnesses to G-d, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives, and whether rich or poor: for G-d can protect both”. Imam Mahdee’s opening comments were followed by Methodist Minister James Todd who spoke of the overwhelming message in his faith was that all people are created equal, and ought to be received with love, care, and support, every day of our lives.
Other speakers on this awesome program included: Hoda El-Tomi – Mercy to All Mankind, Eric Wasileski – Midnight Voices, Bob Funke- VFP, Yusufi Vali – ISBCC, Nicole Waybright – VFP, Alfred Davis – Roxbury Veterans Group, Kourtney Mitchell – VFP, Dr John Robbins – Council on American Islamic Relations, Calib Nelson – Warrior Writers, Erin Leach-Ogden – William Joiner Institute, Barry Ladendorf – VFP National President, Lyndon Bilal – MAVA National Commander, Joy Cumming – Adjutant Department of Massachusetts Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Bill Evans – Commissioner Boston Police Department.
Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans stated “We are all Muslims deep down, we all stand for peace, and peace is our main goal, and we will not stand for bigotry. The Boston police and the city of Boston love Muslims”. In his closing remarks Pat Scanlon reiterated the theme that was echoed throughout the morning, and admonished the attendees to take the messages they heard home with them and live by them, and don’t allow prejudice, bigotry, and Islamophobia to fester. If you see someone talking or acting in this manner, take a stand, because we are Veterans that must stand for what is right and American. It’s up to all of us to stand up and bring this un-American behavior to an end.
After the rally concluded all attendees were invited inside the Masjid to observe the congregational Noon Prayer being performed by the Muslims. Additionally, refreshments were served by the host Masjid, and a question / answer session was conducted for the guests, as well.
Please respect, support, and assist, your military service members, and consider joining a MAVA Post near you. To find out more about MAVA, and to start a post where you live visit: http://mavanational.com/ and on Facebook.