Dec. 15, 2011 marked the 220th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. On this day Asaf Bar-Tura represented the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs at an interfaith press conference opposing the provisions allowing indefinite detention in the National Defense Authorization Act. These were his words at the press conference:
“Throughout the ages the Jewish community believed, and still believes, that we ought to guide ourselves in the tradition of our prophets – Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and others – who stood steadfast in the gates of the city, said what some did not want to here. The prophets, those who speak truth to power, are often vulnerable, marginalized, isolated.
Throughout the history of this country, the rights to due process, to legal representation, to a fair trial – have all been the last defenses available to those most vulnerable and discriminated among us. The Jewish people remember all too well what can happen when people are stripped of their own rights, in their own land. When the light of justice, of just laws and institutions is dimmed, then civility is abandoned and darkness prevails.
President Obama: in a few days the Jewish community will begin lighting candles in celebration of Hanukkah. We say that we create light to drive away the darkness of our times. In these days we remember the times when we were oppressed, our freedoms taken away, and we rededicate ourselves in this season to the struggle to live freely.
We urge you today to drive away the darkness. Stand up for civil rights. Stand up for human rights. Do not – in the name of the fight against terrorism – bring terror into our communities. Defend all Americans. Veto this bill.”
Other speakers at the press conference included:
Executive Director, United African Organization
Board President, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Deputy Director, CAIR-Chicago
Imam Misbahudeen Ahmed Rufai
Executive Board Member, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Professor of History, Malcolm X College
Muslim Bar Association
Rev. Larry Greenfield
Executive Minister, American Baptist Churches of Metro Chicago
Activist, Immigrant Youth Justice League