Grief, Solidarity, and Hope in the wake of Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad

On Press Release

The member organizations of Shoulder to Shoulder, a coalition of 31 religious denominations and organizations committed to standing against anti-Muslim bigotry in the U.S., expressed grief and solidarity in the wake of the attacks in Paris and Beirut this week. We stand alongside the many, many Muslim individuals, groups, and organizations in the US and across the globe expressing heartache and deep opposition to violence and hate (more on this here, here, here, here, and here). We are committed to joining together in our shared grief to mourn, and in our shared hope to overcome hate, extremism, and violence in all its forms. We are strongest against forces that seek to divide and harm when we refuse to accept their terms of engagement across religious, racial, national, and ethnic lines. Together, we hope, and commit to working ever more resolutely for a peaceful, just and inclusive world.

In the wake of these violent events, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign Director Catherine Orsborn said, “This is a moment of tragedy for all humanity — a tragedy that transcends religious and national communities — as we feel so deeply today the violence and pain that extremism and hate can bring about. In these moments, we must resist efforts to divide us against one another. It is a second wave of tragedy when American Muslims, South Asians, Arabs, and others, so many of whom have been victims of extremist violence themselves, are the targets of violent rhetoric and backlash attacks in the aftermath of such events. The religious organizations that make up Shoulder to Shoulder stand with American Muslims in their condemnation this heinous violence, as we stand in solidarity with each other everyday.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA) issued a call to prayer for Paris, Beirut and Baghdad:

We ask for sustaining courage for those who are suffering; wisdom and diligence among global and national agencies and individuals assessing threat and directing relief efforts; and for our anger and sorrow to unite in service to the establishment of a reign of peace, where the lion and the lamb may dwell together, and terror will not hold sway over our common life.

In these days of shock and sorrow, open our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to the movements of your Spirit, who flows in us like the river whose streams makes glad the city of God, and the hearts of all who dwell in it, and in You.Read the full prayer here.

A prayer from the Unitarian Universalist Association:

The trauma is immense, nearly unspeakable.

We know that we are called to feel the pain of humanity,

to hear the cry of the soul,

the innocent soul.

So we shall.

May it help us turn to love in spite of hate.

May it help us turn to trust in spite of fear.

Keep reading.

The Islamic Society of North America offered condolences and condemned the attacks for invoking Islam in committing this horror:

In a statement, ISNA President Azhar Azeez said:

We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks in Paris. No religious tradition can ever justify nor condone such ruthless and senseless acts of violence. Our prayers and condolences go out to the family and loved ones of the victims.

Read the full statement here.

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s Paris-based Samia Hathroubi spoke with a reporter on NPR about the way forward in healing and continuing the hard work of developing unity and solidarity among all people in France, including the fear of a backlash against European Muslim communities.

The Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ said in a statement that,

We work and pray for reconciliation and peace with justice among God’s people and for creation. We yearn for the day when grievances and aggression shall be no more, and the lion can lay down with the lamb. We walk with the people of Lebanon and France, of the Middle East and Europe, and of the entire world, accompanying them in their times of tragedy and despair, hoping with them for release. We acknowledge the pain of the refugee and displaced who long for home; and of parents whose children’s futures seem bleak. We imagine the end of violence and conflict among nations, faith communities, and people, and cry unto God that God’s vision for creation be revealed.

Read Global Ministry’s full statement here.

And Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister & President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), offered the following reflection:

“We pray for the victims and their families. Lord, have mercy.

Even as we pray, how else will we respond? Walking the way of Jesus is challenging when violence strikes close to our hearts. When we are at risk or fearful, what does it mean that Jesus says to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek, to see the face of Christ on the face of our neighbor — especially our refugee neighbor?” Read her full statement here.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops said, “Terror always seeks to separate us from those we most love. Through their suffering, courage and compassion, Parisians are reminding us that the common bond of humanity is strongest when the need is greatest. We pledge our prayers for everyone who suffers from this horrific violence and our advocacy to support all those working to build just and peaceful societies.” Keep reading…

Follow this link to read the full post on Medium.

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