In the Bronx the Silent Majority Prays for Peace and Sparks Plans for a Future March

Among those attending the rally for unity and peace and understanding are John Marano and Silvio Mazella

Among those attending the rally for unity and peace and understanding are John Marano and Silvio Mazella

As the sun set over Pelham Parkway on January 16th, a unity rally for peace and understanding took place. As the sun continued to disappear in the sky, the Jewish Sabbath began, the Muslim Day of Rest was ending and the Christian day of rest was two days away.

The rally was sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. “We cannot let the actions of a few define a group, nor can we let them hijack an entire faith,” said Gjonaj, who voiced his stance to support and defend everyone who works for peace in the Bronx and abroad. He pointed to the diverse religious leaders from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities standing near him and urged them to continue their work for peace in the community.

One of the leaders who joined Assemblyman Gjonaj at the podium was Imam Hamid Alsilwi of the Bronx Muslim Center, who affirmed that the actions of a minority who insist on twisting the words of the Quran for their own benefits do not represent the views or opinions of the majority of Muslims. As he denounced the actions occurring abroad, his call for peace has joined a growing chorus of other Muslim leaders worldwide who have grown tired of groups such as ISIS, Boko Haram, and “lone wolf” individuals dominating the media, particularly in western nations.

“We must not allow these groups to define Islam. We must work to demonstrate that true religion does not perpetuate violence” said Imam Alsilwi. He also thanked the assemblyman for his courage in putting together the rally and for those who came out in support for peace.

Imam Hamid Alsilwi of the Bronx Muslim Cente and Assemblyman Gjonaj

Imam Hamid Alsilwi of the Bronx Muslim Cente and Assemblyman Gjonaj

Other religious leaders who were present included, Imam Tajir Kukaj of the Staten Island Islamic Cultural Center, Rabbi Shmuel Zuckerman from Young Israel of Pelahm Parkway, Father Peter Popaj of Our Lady of Shkodra Roman Catholic Church, Rabbi Moshe Fuchs of Congregation Sons of Israel, and Father Salvatore DeStefano of St. Clare’s Church of Assisi.

Among the community leaders who were present were Tony Signorile and Silvio Mazella of the Morris Park Community Association, Jeff Panish of The Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, Anthony Vitaliano, Chair of Community Board # 11, John Marano, First Vice Chair of Community Board # 10, and Joe Thompson, President 49th Precinct Community Council.

As I stated in a previous column the silent majority must be heard. The voices of those who commit acts of terrorism in the name of any religion do not represent anywhere near the majority of people of faith or those who are atheists. The Silent Majority can no longer be silent. Those voices, our voices, must overwhelm the voices of hate, abuse and terrorism.

We must act now. I am calling for a March of the Not Silent Any More Majority for late spring. Let us join Muslims, Jews, Christians, Wiccans, Atheists, Buddhists, and all other religious affiliations together in a march of solidarity in Manhattan. I am reaching out to religious leaders such as Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum and our political leaders to make this happen. We cannot allow ISIS, The Taliban, Boko Haram, Hamas, and others to try to hijack one religion for their own blasphemous goals. They are not people of any faith, they are terrorists. The Muslim nations condemn them. The vast majority of Muslims condemn them. Humanity condemns them.

At this stage, I am thrilled to announce that our Public Advoacte Tish James will be spearheading this Not Silent Any More Majority rally and march. My good friend Joel Bhuiyan, a devout Muslim and animal rights activist, is joining me in preparing this rally.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world condemn these acts of violence. Islam, like Judaism and other religions, teaches that if you kill one innocent person it is like killing all of humanity and if you save one life it is like saving all of humanity. What is tragic and ironic about this attack is that Islam is actually a champion of freedom of speech. The Prophet Muhammad was attacked vociferously through his life for spreading a message of monotheism. Not once did he ask or encourage anyone to retaliate or revenge any slights against him” said Bhuiyan.

If you are interested in participating and assisting in a March of the Not Silent Any More, please feel free to email me here.

This column was composed by Fernando Tirado, founder of Bronx on the Go and me. Fernando Tirado is a great leader in tolerance and unity whose work is greatly respected.

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