National Religious Leaders Condemn New Year’s Day Firebombings in Queens, New York

On Press Release

SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER

STANDING WITH AMERICAN MUSLIMS; UPHOLDING AMERICAN VALUES

For Immediate Release: January 4, 2012
Contact: Christina Warner, Shoulder-to-Shoulder campaigncwarner@shouldertoshouldercampaign.org ; (202) 544-8989

WASHINGTON – Leaders of Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values, a national campaign of 27 Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders and organizations seeking to end anti-Muslim sentiment, released the following statement today in response to the New Year’s Day firebombings in Queens, New York and Long Island, New York.

“As Christian, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders we stand shoulder-to-shoulder in response to the recent firebomings of January 1, 2012. The four locations targeted in Queens, New York and one in Long Island, New York included the Imam al-Khoei Benevolent Foundation, a store and three private homes –affecting members of Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities.

Adding to the horrendous nature of these attacks is the fact that each family was in their home and at least 80 people were present at the al-Khoei Center at the time of the attacks. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported but the sinister nature of these actions reminds us of the
urgency of addressing such violence.

We condemn the violence toward these individuals and communities, and we offer our support to those affected. We are deeply saddened by incidents of violence committed against any religious community, and also by the desecration of houses of worship.

As religious leaders we will work to root out the seeds of violence toward religious communities no matter the motivation or particular community that is targeted. Two of the three homes attacked on Sunday belong to Christian and Hindu families. One of the homes was reportedly used regularly for Hindu worship services. Violence toward any particular community affects all communities.

The attacks represent the deep challenge that all Americans face in the New Year. It is time that we as a country resolve to end all violence toward individuals and communities of faith. Increased rates of violence in 2011 against Muslims, Arabs, South Asians and those perceived to be from these communities must taken seriously and cannot be allowed to continue into 2012.

However, information released about the confession of Mr. Lengend in relation to the firebombings has clarified that these attacks were not based on religion but rather on personal grievances. Our relief at this fact does not remove the burden we feel to ensure those affected

by the attacks receive the help they need to make repairs and feel safe again in their homes and houses of worship.

In 2012 we renew our commitment to love our neighbor, a shared imperative in each of our faith traditions. By responding to the teachings of our respective faith traditions we are compelled to condemn the violence aimed at every faith tradition, to support those who have been the victims of such crimes, and to root out the seeds which allow violence to continue in our society.”

Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values is an interfaith coalition dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment by strengthening the voice of freedom and peace. Founded in November 2010 by national faith groups, denominations and interfaith organizations, Shoulder-to-Shoulder works not only on a national level, but offers strategies and support to local and regional efforts to address anti-Muslim sentiment and seeks to spread the word abroad.

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