National Interfaith Leaders Condemn Plan for Hateful Protests at Mosques Across America

On Press Release

For Immediate Release:

October 9, 2015

 

Contact: Benny Witkovsky, West End Strategy Team

Benny@westendstrategy.com; (o) 202-776-7700, (c) 202-765-4290

 

National Interfaith Leaders Condemn Plan for Hateful Protests at Mosques Across America

 

WASHINGTON – Anti-Muslim activists have announced intentions to hold protests outside of American mosques and Muslim community centers across the nation this weekend. In response to this display of bullying and hateful rhetoric, interfaith leaders and members of the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign released the following statements:

 

Catherine Orsborn, campaign director of Shoulder to Shoulder, said: “Thankfully these protests do not represent a majority of the American public, however they do represent a national rhetoric of anti-Muslim bigotry that has grown pernicious and widespread. When people are intimidated on their way to worship, when Mosque doors are blocked, community centers and Halal stores desecrated with graffiti, Muslims are denied their basic rights and dignity. Such protests betray our nation’s promise of religious freedom and are a disgrace to our nation’s commitment to free speech. I hope those communities who are targeted this weekend know that Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Atheists and people of all backgrounds and belief stand with them against this hatred and bigotry.”

 

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said: “As a Jew whose people throughout history have experienced religious persecution and as an American whose country was founded by those seeking refuge from such persecution, we celebrate the right of people of all faiths to worship freely. We urge all people of goodwill to condemn efforts to inhibit the ability of Muslims, or people of any faith, to gather peacefully in prayer. Instead, let us stand together to build an America that is safer and stronger for all because of our commitment to the religious liberty of all.”

 

Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said: “As Christians, we are freed in Christ to love and serve our neighbors. Today our neighbors include Muslims – upstanding faithful Americans. The enemy we face is not Islam, but hatred and fear. I join my sisters and brothers in calling for gestures of solidarity with our American Muslim neighbors. Together we can witness to the world that God’s love will have the last word.”

 

Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, said: “The anti-Muslim rallies being planned on October 9 and 10 by the grotesquely misnamed Global Rally for Humanity in front of mosques across the United States is a vile manifestation of bigotry and hatred. And when these protests feature the open-carry of firearms, as recent anti-Muslim protests have, they present serious security threats. Organizers describe their demonstrations as “anti-mosque, pro-America”, yet in reality they violate core American freedoms and constitutional rights; first and foremost, that, according to the First Amendment, all Americans are entitled to practice their religions free of fear or intimidation.”

 

Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of Interfaith and Community Alliances at the Islamic Society of North America, said “In such situations we become more reassured and more encouraged by our allies who have always been there to denounce this kind of Islam-bashing and intention to attack Islamic places.  There is a verse in the Qur’an that states that one should ‘’respond to evil with utmost goodness.  There is a possibility that those who show animosity to you may be transformed into your warmest friends’ (41:34).  We have advised our communities that in the face of this threat of violence they should be peaceful because our role in this country has been to promote dialogue and understanding.  We are proud of our allies from different faiths who have been our partners in dialogue over the years and stand with us against fear and hate.”

 

 

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Shoulder to Shoulder is a coalition of 31 religious denominations and organizations committed to ending anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Founded in November 2010, Shoulder to Shoulder works not only on a national and denominational level, but offers strategies and support to local and regional efforts to address anti-Muslim sentiment.

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