Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently reached out to the Islamic Society of Boston to show his support for the community. He asked the mosque leaders if he could speak with local Muslims, to which they agreed.
In an extraordinary appearance, Gant — who is the first Jewish chief justice of the state — stood before hundreds of Muslims following the mid-day prayers on Friday. Acknowledging that it is a difficult time for Muslim Americans, particularly in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, he extended his support to them.
“I am here to assure you that you do not stand alone,” Gants said. “You have a Constitution and laws to protect your right to practice your religion, to protect you from discrimination and the denial of your equal rights, and to protect you from acts of violence that might be committed because of your religion or your nation of origin.”
He stressed that both the federal and state constitutions, along with those entrusted to defend those rights, will protect them from discrimination and acts of violence.
“The purpose of a Declaration of Rights is to protect the rights of the minority, of those who are unpopular, even perhaps despised because of who they are, or where they came from, or what they believe, or what they have done,” the judge added. “The popular majority does not much need a Declaration of Rights. They have the Legislature to protect them.”
Gant also talked about his Jewish heritage. He told worshippers that his own ancestors, along with the ancestors of other Americans, were once strangers in the country — addressing the mistreatment of immigrants and the legacy of slavery.
The chief justice’s visit to the center brought an inspiring message to the Muslims, assuring them that they have allies and protection amid the vocal anti-Islam backlash.
Watch Ralph Gant’s encouraging speech in the video below: