Clergy denounce anti-Muslim bigotry

September 8, 2011

WASHINGTON (RNS) Three days before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11
terrorist attacks, religious leaders gathered to remember the victims,
foster interreligious unity and speak out in defense of religious
freedom.

The event was held by Shoulder to Shoulder, a national coalition of
26 faith groups formed a year ago in response to a rise in anti-Muslim
sentiment following debates over an Islamic center near Ground Zero and
a Florida pastor's threats to burn the Quran.

"If we cower in the face of fanatic minorities, we are lost. This is
true for Muslims and it is true for us all," said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the
outgoing head of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Leaders from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Sikh communities joined
in the event at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, just blocks from
the White House.

The meeting recognized the families of Muslim victims of the 9/11
attacks, particularly Shakila Yasmin Miah and Nurul Haq Miah, the only
married couple who died in the attacks.

Faith leaders praised other efforts around the country to promote
interreligious understanding, including an interfaith candlelight vigil
in Corvallis, Ore., in response to the firebombing of the town's only
mosque last November.

Religious leaders also recognized the Children of Abraham project in
Arlington Heights, Ill., which brings together dozens of teenagers and
adults from Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities to discuss their
faith traditions.

"Fear-based politics and discrimination against Muslim Americans and
those perceived to be Muslim disgrace the memories of those who perished
on September 11, and desecrate the core values that make our nation
great," said a joint declaration issued at the meeting.