Press Release: Shoulder to Shoulder Leaders on Paris Attack

On Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, January 8, 2015
CONTACT: Samantha Friedman, West End Strategy Team, (202) 776-7700,

Religious Leaders Combatting Anti-Muslim Bigotry Speak Out on Paris Terror Attack


Washington, D.C. – Following Tuesday’s attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, members of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, a national campaign of religious organizations dedicated to ending anti-Muslim bigotry, released the following statement:

“We condemn yesterday’s attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, and offer our deep condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of those killed or wounded by this horrific violent act,” said Catherine Orsborn, Director of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign.

“All of us at Shoulder to Shoulder were horrified to learn of this wanton act of murderous violence in Paris, which was clearly meant as a frontal assault on freedom of expression, the fundamental principle undergirding a free and democratic society.” said Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and a member of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign. “We uphold the rights of people of all faith traditions, including those with no religion at all, to speak their minds freely without fear of retribution. It is heartening that all major French—as well as American– Muslim organizations have denounced this heinous act of violence committed by misguided members of the Muslim faith as antithetical to true Islam and have affirmed unconditionally their fealty to democracy and freedom of expression.”

Shoulder to Shoulder also calls for the world community to refrain from using this event as a justification for anti-Muslim sentiment or violence.  Schneier added, “In a vibrant pluralistic society, journalists should not have to fear for their lives, and neither should Muslims have to live in fear of harassment or violence because of their religious identity. We at Shoulder to Shoulder will be steadfast in standing together in opposing any effort to make use of the killings in Paris to demonize or, God forbid, to perpetrate violence against Muslims here in the U.S.”

“This attack was inhuman and the perpetrators of this crime are just that: criminals,” said Azhar Azeez, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a founding member of Shoulder to Shoulder. “We join with the international community in condemning these acts, and we offer our prayers for the victims and their families. Muslims have two primary sources of guidance: the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]. If someone claims to be a Muslim, but goes directly against these two sources, they are in clear violation of their faith. The Prophet Muhammad, [PBUH], whose life we all strive to emulate, never condoned resorting to violence when he or the faith of Islam was defamed or insulted, but rather taught that one must return evil with good. There can never be any justification for violence, and one cannot ‘avenge’ the Prophet in this manner, but rather through living a life committed to pursuing justice and peace. While it is important to have public discussions about the lines between free speech and expressions of hate, violence is never the way to go in expressing dissent, frustration, or pain.”


“The Catholic Church unequivocally condemns these senseless acts of violence in the name of religion and I personally offer my condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of France,” said Bishop Robert McElroy. “These are troubling signs that we must not ignore and so we continue to labor for greater understanding and mutual commitment to peace and religious freedom.”

Orsborn added, “We uphold the right of persons of all religious backgrounds, and of no religion at all, to live peaceably in our society because of our commitment to the democratic value of religious freedom and expression.  We must strive together toward creating the peaceful and just world we all want to see.”

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