Civil Rights and Liberties Panel Main

The Rumi Forum hosted a community panel event on Thursday, April 6th, 2017  that involved an engaging discussion on civil rights and liberties.

Rumi Forum Presents 

Communities Together for Civil Rights and Liberties

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m

Busboys and Poets (Brookland)

625 Monroe St NE

Washington, DC 20017

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Ben Franklin for the Pennsylvania Assembly in its Reply to the Governor (1755)

The context to what we attribute this quote to now is different since moving into the 21st century but, the core of the quote speaks volumes to today’s reality. It is the right of the legislature to govern in the interest of collective security however, it is as well the people’s right to speak out and be heard against those collective decisions to which encroach upon any individual’s rights or liberties. Unfortunately, we have moved into a time where the rights of minorities, women, religious groups, etc. are continually threatened. In order to maintain a peaceful and harmonious society we the people need to be vigilant against the encroachment of rights and liberties that affect us and our neighbor and need to stand together in finding and maintaining the delicate balance between our collective security and the protection our liberty.

Speaker Bios:

The Reverend Kristen Looney is the Project Director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. As a religious leader and educator, Kristen specializes in developing partnerships, training, and equipping leaders with dialogue skills.

Kristen is formerly the Head of Programs and Partnerships for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) in the United States. Kristen worked for TBFF in their London office for two years before returning to lead the strategy and expansion of its Face to Faith global schools program in the US. As a trained facilitator Kristen facilitated over 130 global videoconferences with students around the world. Kristen is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Maryland. She is an awarded graduate of Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), studied at the University of Freiburg, Germany – Junior Year Abroad, and is an honors graduate from the College of Wooster (B.A.) in religion and German.


Monica Hopkins-Maxwell became the Executive Director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia in 2014. Previously, Monica served as the Executive Director of the ACLU of Idaho beginning in 2008. During her tenure there she oversaw sweeping statewide victories, particularly in the areas of criminal justice reform, LGBTQ equality, immigrants’ rights and upholding the First Amendment.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Monica had a distinguished career in the nonprofit sector which included executive and development positions.She currently serves on the Advisory Board for Boise State University’s College of Social Sciences and Public Affairs and has been a recipient of numerous awards including the Idaho Business Review’s “Accomplished Under 40” and Women Making History Award. In 2008, she was a Rotary Group Study Exchange participant in Sri Lanka and in 2012-13, she was a Rockwood Leadership Institute Fellow for LGBTQ Advocacy.


Rabbi Laura Rappaport is  Assistant Rabbi and Educator at the Temple B’nai Shalom.  She brings a wealth of experience as a pulpit rabbi, a Director of Congregational Learning, a board-certified hospital chaplain, a director of non-profits, an adjunct college faculty member, an educator for all ages in many settings and the mother of two.

Rabbi Rappaport grew up in rural Northwest New Jersey and received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.  She received her M.A.H.L. and Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (Jerusalem and Cincinnati campuses).  She has also completed Masters’ level courses in Bio-ethics from Rush University and University of Washington and Doctoral level courses in Jewish Studies from Spertus College in Chicago.


Talib M. Shareef is President and Imam of the historic, Nation’s Mosque, Masjid Muhammad, located at 1519 Islamic Way, (4th Street), NW, Washington, DC. Imam Shareef, is a retired Chief Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force after 30 years, and holds a Masters of Business Administration from American Intercontinental University, a Diploma from the Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University, and is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Arabic and Middle East studies. He is a student of the late Imam W.D. Mohammed, Muslim-American Spokesman for Humanity.

Imam Shareef served as Imam in five U.S. cities and seven military locations around the world, and as convener, Georgia State Association of Imams.  He led a historic interfaith delegation to Italy and received for a meeting at the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He was one of the signers in Nigeria to the Abuja Peace Declaration organized by the International Global Peace Foundation and the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution.  He was the first Imam with military service to offer prayer at an opening session of the U.S. Congress. His military service yield’s major honors and medals.  Other awards include Denver’s Spectrum Newspaper’s “Who’s Who” among African American Leaders; Muslim Journal’s 2011 Imam of the Year; Command Roy Wilkins NAACP Leadership Award.  Imam Shareef and wife, Tahirah, have three children, seven grandchildren, are custodial parents of three others and have served as foster parents for several children.



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