Connecticut Tigers owner met Sunday with local faith community representatives

Norwich — The anticipated meeting between representatives of various faith groups and the owner of the Connecticut Tigers took place Sunday at City Hall, with several participants, Mayor Peter Nystrom said during the City Council meeting Monday night.

Nystrom said the meeting “came together” quickly on Friday night and was held Sunday for three hours.

The meeting was requested by leaders of the Connecticut chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in response to Tigers’ owner E. Miles Prentice’s position as chairman of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank described by some as an anti-Muslim group. Members of the southeastern Connecticut Muslim community were among the eight who attended Sunday’s meeting, but CAIR-CT Executive Director Tark Aouadi, who requested the meeting, did not attend.

Participants reached Monday night offered general comments on the meeting but said a joint statement by all participants will be issued this week through the mayor’s office.

“It was a good thing and does show that the city leaders do care about what is happening in their community, and to make sure the Muslim community feels safe,” Swaranjit Singh Khalsa, a Sikh community representative, said.

Khalsa called the meeting “a frank discussion,” but said more details would be put in the joint statement.

Representatives from several faith groups, including local Muslims and CAIR-CT representatives, gathered at the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium Sept. 1 to receive a multi-language "Welcome" sign erected on the front gate. The sign was donated by Khalsa in response to the concerns raised over Prentice's affiliation with CSP. 

The Rev. Gregory Perry, a member of the Norwich Area Clergy Association, which helped arrange the meeting, said it “went well,” and those at the meeting agreed to put together the joint statement to issue to the media.

Nystrom said a friend and business associate of Prentice’s from Arizona, who is Muslim, also attended the meeting.

“It was a good productive meeting,” Nystrom said, “a lot of open, frank discussion.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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