SOMERVILLE, NJ - Dr. Alex Kharazi, president of the Franklin Township Interfaith Coalition and director/vice president of Masjid-e-Ali Mosque, is one of the featured speakers at Saturday's candlelight vigil in support of immigrants and Muslims at the Somerset County Courthouse.
State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, D-16th, will also be speaking at the Feb. 4 gathering.
The event is sponsored by the Young Democrats of Somerset County.
"As the shock waves of President Trump's Executive Order banning refugees continue to spread throughout the nation, we as a country, and especially as a county, are reminded of the power of standing united against hate, and the importance of speaking up against a policy that is inherently un-American," reads a statement released by the organizers.
"We all want to have secure borders," Kharazi said. "But we can do it without closing our borders to immigrants and refugees and barring people based on their faith or national origin.
"The executive order is simply un-American," he continued, "and undermines our safety and respect around the world for our citizens and government."
Pat O'Connell, co-president of the SCYD said the rally represents "a chance for people who feel frustrated by the president's actions to get out and meet one another."
Trump signed an Executive Order last week banning immigration to the United States of non-U.S. citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations in the Mideast for a period of 90 days during which time the U.S. will examine and re-tool its vetting procedures for immigration.
The executive order has been met with protests nationwide and overseas.
"I've been thinking about this a lot, trying to understand the motivation and impact," Zwicker said.
"I'm a scientist," he added. "I work with people from all over the world; we don't judge one another based on religion, ethnicity or country of origin. We judge them based on what kind of scientist they are," he said.
Zwicker is a Ph.D physicist and head of science education at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
"What I see is a policy that judges people not on their actual risk but simply on their religion and that is unconstitutional, it goes against the very foundations of this country," Zwicker said. "To read about a child being detained at an airport is heart-wrenching.
"I'm all for keeping our country safe, everybody is, of course, but this is not the way to do it," Zwicker added.
The candlelight vigil is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the historic courthouse, located on East Main Street between North Bridge Street and Grove Street.
Others scheduled to speak include:
Somerset County Democratic Chairwoman Peg Schaffer; Franklin Township Mayor Phil Kramer; North Plainfield Councilwoman Keiona Miller and Dr. Karen Gaffney, Raritan Valley Community College and the Central Jersey Community Coalition.