Interfaith Leaders Express Support for American Muslims and Interfaith Response to Violence

Interfaith Leaders Express Support for American Muslims and Interfaith Response to Violence

In response to recent violence overseas which has provoked vitriolic commentary toward American Muslims from certain media, Christina Warner, Campaign Director of Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values, today issued the following statement in support of American Muslims and interfaith response to such violence:

“Shoulder-to-Shoulder members, along with Americans of all backgrounds, have watched with deep concern the attacks in Nairobi, Pakistan and Iraq this past week.  We join our fellow Americans in denouncing this violence and encourage others to join us in committing to end violence against religious minorities wherever it occurs and no matter the faith tradition targeted.

In the United States, and for the organizations we represent, that commitment means not standing silently by when religous minorities in our communities are threatened with exclusion or discrimination.  That is why we are also deeply concerned about claims that violence committed overseas might somehow implicate Muslim communities here in the United States.  In fact, evidence has shown that mosques serve as vibrant community centers that encourage enhanced civic participation for their congregants, as well as providing essential services like food pantries, health clinics and youth programming.  At best, it is simply incorrect to say that mosques are of concern simply because they are houses of worship for American Muslims.  At worse, it can have the dangerous effect of inciting or even seeming to sanction mosque opposition, vandalism and desecration, which, sadly, continue to take place in the United States.

As interfaith leaders, we work jointly to end anti-Muslim sentiment, and we believe that responding to assaults on any religious community is the responsibility of all of us – no matter what our faith tradition may be – as is meeting the needs cause by such violence.  We must not let violence overseas interfere with our constitutional right to freedom of religion and in fact, we must redouble our efforts to ensure that this freedom is never jeopardized.  Discrimination and false accusations will not make our communities safer; interfaith respect and understanding will.”

Shoulder-to-Shoulder is a national coalition of denominations and faith groups that stood in solidarity on September 7, 2010, to speak out against the rise in anti-Muslim sentiment leading up to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks and the planned burning of the Qur’an in Florida.  Shoulder-to-Shoulder supports communities in challenging anti-Muslim sentiment by promoting peace and mutual understanding.

Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims; Upholding American Values is a national campaign of religious, interfaith and faith-based organizations, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, dedicated to ending anti-Muslim sentiment.  Founded in November 2010 by more than 20 national religious groups, Shoulder-to-Shoulder works locally, nationally and internationally to offer strategies for and to support efforts to address anti-Muslim sentiment.