Growing Support for Boston Muslims' Civil Rights Claim
- RELIGIOUS GROUPS AND PEACE ORGANIZATIONS LINE UP TO SUPPORT THE
ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BOSTON
Growing Support for ISB Community Civil Rights Claim
BOSTON A number of religious and civic organizations today filed
Amicus Briefs in support of the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) in its
defamation lawsuit against the David Project, the Boston Herald,
Fox-TV, and a number of individuals and organizations who are working
together to halt the construction of a mosque in Roxbury.
"The Islamic Society of Boston is grateful for the extraordinary
support from the numerous organizations which have stepped forward
today to file Amicus Briefs in support of the ISB," said the Society's
interfaith coordinator Jessica Masse. "The Massachusetts Superior
Court has now twice affirmed the ISB's right to seek relief from the
false, Islamaphobic and damaging media campaign mounted against it to
prevent the building of a new mosque and cultural center in Roxbury."
The David Project and other defendants have appealed and continue to
press the courts to throw out the case based on the Massachusetts
anti-SLAPP law, a law that was intended to protect abutting land
owners participating in public processes from strategic lawsuits
brought by developers to intimidate them. They do so despite having
never participated in the multi-year public process that led the BRA
to transfer land in Roxbury to the ISB for the multi-million dollar
According to Masse, "The ISB's lawsuit is an important civil rights
case. It seeks to battle discrimination and secure for area Muslims
the same rights of freedom of worship and assembly that all faith and
non-faith based groups in our society hold dear.
"We are overwhelmed by the show of support from our friends and
neighbors. Thanks to the willingness of these groups to come forward
and speak out, there is a growing groundswell of support for the ISB
and its right to combat discrimination by seeking justice in the
courts," Masse added.
The first non-Muslim organization to approach the ISB and ask
questions was Boston's Jewish Voice for Peace. "Because Jews have felt
the effects of discrimination through much of our history, we are
particularly troubled by the actions of the David Project and others
in what appears to be an organized effort to prevent Muslims from
building a place of worship and inter-religious dialogue. Although our
goal is ultimately to promote positive relationships between the
Jewish and Muslim communities, as Boston area Jews, we support the
ISB's right to legal redress in the face of what appears to be a
malicious media campaign against them. It is important that we make a
public statement that the David Project and its allies do not speak
for us." explains Alice Rothchild, co-chair for JVP Boston.
Other groups that have joined in filing an Amicus Brief written by
Boston lawyer Thomas A. Reed, include the American Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee, Tekiah, the Boston Tikkun Community,
Community Change, Inc., The Diocese of St. Francis of Assisi, the
Massachusetts Chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American
Advancement, the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild,
United for Justice and Peace, Cambridge United for Justice and Peace,
Clarendon Church and Dorchester People for Peace. The Muslim Public
Affairs Council has also come forward and filed its own Amicus Brief
in support of the ISB represented by Boston lawyer Max Stern.
The ISB has been contacted by many others who have expressed their
support for the Society and its right to move forward in its lawsuit.
"It has been incredibly gratifying as a lawyer to see the overwhelming
outpouring of support for the ISB. It began with a few who learned of
the ISB's lawsuit and the possibility of filing an Amicus Brief, and
the word spread quickly.
We have heard from many organizations and community leaders and the
very strong sentiment has been that the ISB should have its day in
court," said Heidi Nadel, lawyer for the ISB. On Friday, a Superior
Court judge dismissed the lawsuit initiated by the David Project
against it, the BRA and Roxbury Community College. That lawsuit, filed
in the name of James Policastro in order to keep the role of the David
Project hidden from the public, sought to undo the land deal between
the ISB and the BRA which would have required the ISB to tear down the
already partially built mosque. The Court ruled that if Mr. Policastro
had any real objection to the project, he should have participated in
the multi-year process which led up to the land transfer, but he
failed to do so.
In a 2/25/07 Boston Globe article, Mr. Policastro and his lawyer,
Samuel Perkins, refused to state publicly who paid for the
now-dismissed lawsuit, and Mr. Policastro openly conceded that it
would not be his decision whether to appeal the dismissal of the case.
"The ISB calls upon the Mr. Policastro and his counsel to openly state
who is behind his lawsuit and who financed the effort to stop the
building of a place of worship by area Muslims," Masse noted. "Despite
all that has happened, including our most recent legal victory, we
remain ready to sit down with all those who oppose us, including the
David Project, and with a professional mediator to try and resolve our
differences," said Masse. "Now is the time for healing and
reconciliation. We urge the David Project to rethink its approach as
to how communities here in Boston should inter-act with each other."
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