Posted by on September 07, 2010 in Blog

At an emergency summit today organized by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), AAI President Jim Zogby joined a group of interfaith leaders who came together to “denounce categorically the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s Muslim community.” In a statement adopted by the 35 leaders, the unified group spoke of the need to unequivocally stand with the American Muslim community during this difficult time. Asserting that silence is not an option, the call to action stated:

We are profoundly distressed and deeply saddened by the incidents of violence committed against Muslims in our community, and by the desecration of Islamic houses of worship. We stand by the principle that to attack any religion in the United States is to do violence to the religious freedom of all Americans. The threatened burning of copies of the Holy Qu’ran this Saturday is a particularly egregious offense that demands the strongest possible condemnation by all who value civility in public life and seek to honor the sacred memory of those who lost their lives on September 11. As religious leaders, we are appalled by such disrespect for a sacred text that for centuries has shaped many of the great cultures of our world, and that continues to give spiritual comfort to more than a billion Muslims today.

At the conclusion of the summit, a group of the attendees met with Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss the Justice Department’s response to the various cases of reported violence against American Muslims nationally. In a readout of the meeting, the Justice Department issued a statement that said, “violence against individuals or institutions based on religious bias is intolerable.”

While government action is important, Jim also emphasized the need to address the hate-filled rhetoric that has become commonplace among some policy makers and pundits. Referring to the attempt by some politicians to use it as a “wedge issue” in the lead up to the November midterm elections, Jim highlighted the need to go on record opposing such hateful tactics.  

After the summit, the press conference and the meeting with Attorney General Holder, we asked Jim to reflect on the day's events.  Here is what he said:

The entire day was so impressive.  The religious leadership that came together represented the overwhelming majority of Americans. The statement we adopted reflected the values of respect for diversity and freedom that have, for so long, defined our nation. And the forceful and principled stands taken by Attorney General Holder and Secretary of State Clinton were clear examples of government at its best. I was so proud to have been a part of this day and am confident that this effort can serve as an antidote to the hysteria and fear that some have created and others have exploited for political advantage.