Monday, March 1, 2021

Mechanic for Mount Vernon FD calls Islam ‘socio-political cult’


Mount Vernon city officials sent a clear message that a Facebook post by a mechanic for the city’s fire department calling Islam a “socio-political cult” won’t be tolerated.  

During Ramadan, the holiest month for Muslims, Robert Versace said in a Facebook post, “Bear in mind that Islam is not a religion. It is a socio-political cult using religious trappings towards its goal of dominating the West. Because it is not a religion but is instead a threat to our way of life, it is not an affront to the concept of ‘freedom of religion’ to put this cult in its place: out of America! Muslims should be banned from all public offices and positions of authority and prohibited from building mosques or proselytizing.” 

The post has since been removed, but the screen shot was saved and posted on Black Westchester Magazine’s website. 

Mayor Shawyn Patterson Howard said this is a personnel issue and will be handled internally, but condemned the comment in an emailed statement. 

“A statement like this is reprehensible and does not reflect the values of the City of Mount Vernon or my administration. Our city is not only diverse but inclusive and we will not tolerate hate speech and bigotry,” the mayor said. “We are in the process of expanding staff training to include implicit and explicit bias and other critical topics.

“We are disappointed that this has happened especially considering that this is the sacred season of Ramadan,” Howard said. 

Fire Commissioner Deborah Norman said in an emailed statement that this matter will be taken “very seriously.”

“As the Fire Commissioner I am taking this matter very seriously and will not tolerate any member of the department attacking any religious group(s) regardless of said individual(s) posting anything on their own personal social media account,” Norman said. “This unacceptable rhetoric will be addressed immediately.”

She added that the fire department is very diverse with members of all religions, race, ethnicity and gender.

“This individual’s postings/views and or opinions in no way reflects the views of the Mount Vernon Fire Department it’s members or administrators period,” Norman said. 

Twitter: @ChrisEberhart2

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