In a city of 8 million people, between them speaking almost 200 languages, New York City is one of the most religiously diverse cities on earth. Ongoing challenges to peaceful coexistence and pluralism, especially post-9/11, include protecting religious freedom, balancing civil rights with heightened security concerns, countering hate speech and the prejudice that can lead to it, and providing welcome and civics education for immigrants arriving from other countries.
As part of our ongoing advocacy work for religious freedom, ICNY organized letters from religious leaders around the city (see below) supporting the Handschu/Raza settlement between the NYPD and Muslim New Yorkers whose rights were violated by spying and undercover work done on mosques and Muslim student groups over the past decade. These letters from ICNY, the Micah Faith Table and others, support the settlement and urge the judge on the case to take additional strengthening measures.
In 2013, ICNY joined other community and civil rights organizations to sign an Amicus Brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in the landmark “Stop-and-Frisk” case, Floyd et al vs. City of New York et al. ICNY currently sits on the community advisory board for the court-appointed facilitator of this case. We are a member of Communities United for Police Reform (CUPR) and worked to pass the 2014 Community Safety Act that sought to increase transparency, at the NYPD.
The Interfaith Center of New York is committed to fighting Islamophobia. From 2012-2013, ICNY worked in coalition with T’ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights North America), the Jewish Community Relations Council, United Methodist Women, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and Muslim Community Network to advocate successfully for disclaimers on anti-Muslim subway ads placed by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. More recently, ICNY submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning the premise of its hearings “Willful Blindness —The Consequences of Agency Efforts to De-Emphasize Radical Islam in Combating Terrorism.”
Finally, ICNY has partnered with the Micah Table on Police-Community Relations issues and an increase in the Living Wage for all New Yorkers. We continue to be members of the New York State Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform and continue to issue statements condemning acts of religiously- or ethnically-motivated violence in our city and across the country — for Senando Sen, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, the Sikh Community of Wisconsin, and Hindu leaders in Ozone Park.
Through advocacy work, ICNY helps New Yorkers and others build relationships of mutual respect and understanding across faith lines. We give people the tools they need to participate in the civic life of our multicultural democracy. Please click here to support this essential work.