CAIR-ST. LOUIS: INTERFAITH PARTNERSHIP CELEBRATES 20TH ANNIVERSARY, AMID PROTESTS
More than 400 people gathered Thursday evening at the Frontenac Hilton Hotel to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Interfaith Partnership of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Outside the hotel, about a dozen people gathered along Lindbergh Boulevard to protest the group's choice of speaker, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Foxman was unable to make the dinner and was replaced by the league's deputy national director, Kenneth Jacobson.
The protesters, who included Christians, Jews and Muslims, said they felt that the Interfaith group had been insensitive to some in the Muslim community by inviting a representative of the Anti-Defamation League to speak on the topic, "Building Bridges: The Power of Interfaith Alliances, at Home and Abroad."
"If this organization is about building partnerships and bridges, don't bring to town people who are very one-sided and practice broad-brush rhetoric," said Bill Ramsey, one of the protesters. "It doesn't help, in the present global environment, to denigrate the faith of Islam."
Another protester, Margaret Hamra, said she'd come because, "Mr. Foxman often mistakes feelings against Israeli policy with feelings of anti-Semitism."
Inside, Muslim leaders said their community - 70 strong at the dinner - was diverse and did not stand as one on either side of the Foxman issue.
One group, the Council for American-Islamic Relations, had considered calling for a boycott of the dinner but decided it would be better to be a part of the evening, said the group's local spokesman, Kamal Yassin.