Islamic Center of Central Missouri event discusses torture

More than 320 religious groups are working to end torture.

People of various faiths gathered at the Islamic Center of Central Missouri to watch a film about ending torture Saturday.

The Rev. Richard Killmer, the executive director of the National Religious Groups Against Torture, and Mohamed Elsanousi, director of interfaith and community alliances for the Islamic Society of North America, hosted a question and answer session after the film.

The chairman of the Islamic Center’s board of directors, Rashed Nizam, asked the group to present after he attended an ISNA event.

“The average American, they really don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them,” Nizam said.

Killmer said NRCAT works by changing the hearts and minds of Americans. NRCAT is an interfaith group that believes torture is morally wrong and should be stopped.

“Number one: torture is immoral. Understand that you don’t hurt a person’s dignity and worth,” Killmer said.

Killmer said NRCAT opposes torture because it is illegal and it has not made America more secure.

President Ronald Reagan signed The U.N. Convention Against Torture, which tries to prevent torture. Killmer said U.S. torture is a recruiting tool for terrorist groups, and torture does not have to be used to produce information.

“Prisoners as they’re being tortured will make up stuff,” Killmer said.

NRCAT is trying to get the Senate Intelligence Committee to release a 6,000-page report on CIA torture.

“It would be very useful if that was released,” Killmer said. “It needs to be released. Once it is, we’re going to know a lot of stuff about what happened.”

Kilmer said that knowledge would help prevent torture from ever happening again.

“Religion teaches us to join good and oppose evil,” Nazim said.

Nazim said the Quran teaches that all people are sons and daughters of God.

“Human beings need to be respected and loved,” Nazim said.

“I think it’s important for Christians to take a stand against torture,” Pastor Maureen Dickmann of Rock Bridge Christian Church said.

Mark Haim of Mid-Missouri Peace Works said he thought it was important for all people, regardless of faith, to stop torture and discrimination.

“It’s not just the faith community,” Haim said. “It needs to also include secular people who are not part of a congregation or religion.”

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