Posted by on August 26, 2010 in Blog

The Arab American Institute is deeply concerned about the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has been generated in response to plans to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan. The demonizing of an entire religious community in the effort to gain a political advantage represents the worst of American politics, threatens to divide our ethnically and religiously diverse country, undermines our basic civil liberties, and ultimately leaves minorities more vulnerable to hate crimes.

President Bush described the ideology of the Al-Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 as "a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics, a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam." By failing to distinguish between Islam, as a religion, and the actions of Al Qaeda terrorists, law makers condone the ignorance and hate that our community faces on account of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. Ultimately, AAI believes the failure to make this distinction would be not tolerated if this were a discussion concerning any other faith.

With prominent elected and appointed officials all over the country opposing the building of the Islamic community center, the anti-Muslim sentiment finds support beyond the fringe into mainstream circles of America. It is important to remember that in the days following 9/11, in the midst of an unfortunate backlash against our community, the President, both houses of Congress and both political parties spoke in one voice to denounce bigotry and intolerance, reminding Americans that true patriotism was to promote tolerance and respect for the rights and beliefs of all. AAI asks that we, as a nation, recommit ourselves to these same values and voice our support for the rights of all communities to be protected, regardless of ethnicity or religion.