This guest blog post comes from a concerned member with Not In Our Town Princeton, a vibrant group in the NIOT community. In this opinion piece, the author addresses hate crimes and discrimination against the Muslim community in the U.S. The author finds hope in civil rights organizations, good Samaritans and interfaith movements. The tragedy of 9/11 struck all of us very hard but perhaps the community most affected by this tragic event in the history of our nation is the American Muslim community. While American Muslims grieved on 9/11, they also worked side by side with ground zero rescue workers and first responders. American Muslims also gathered supplies for the rescue workers at Ground Zero. Watch a Firefighter talk about 9/11:
Within hours of a fire bomb at a local mosque, citizens gathered to proclaim that hate was not welcome in Corvallis, Ore. Local police discovered the arson at the city’s Salman Alfarisi Islamic Center early Sunday morning and quickly responded. The fire destroyed an office, but ignited the community. Just two days before, 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud—who attended the mosque while a student at Oregon State University—was arrested in Portland, Ore. for an alleged plot to set off a bomb during the tree-lighting ceremony in the state’s most populous city. Local activists fear the Corvallis mosque bombing was retribution for the Portland incident. “By Sunday afternoon, we were all calling each other, asking ‘How should we organize a response?” said Corvallis citizen Laurie Childers. Many acted individually, she added, by bringing flowers and cards to the mosque.
The searing controversy over the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero in New York has exposed deep divisions and unhealed wounds in our country. (The comments on this recent Washington Post article by Eboo Patel illustrate these deep rifts.) Whether the debate stems from bigotry toward Muslims, or insensitivity to the tragedy of 9/11 depends on your perspective-- but emotions are flared and battle lines are being drawn. How can we turn this crisis into an opportunity to find a new way to talk to each other about the issues that are emerging? In our town, public radio station KQED hosted a forum with local religious leaders. Listen to the forum here. How is the controversy playing out in your community? How can we open up a constructive dialogue? Please post your examples and ideas.
The debate continues around the building of an Islamic center two blocks from Ground Zero. According to a New York Times report, the center's organizers reached out to key interfaith leaders, including those from the Jewish Community Center, Trinity Church and the 9-11 victims' families, but they did not anticipate the firestorm in the media that followed. In the midst of this controversy, Not In Our Town offers these stories from communities about interfaith action and understanding. We encourage you to use these films to begin a dialogue in your town and with your firends. Please let us know about the creative ways you develop to start a conversation. A City Unites After Synagogue Arsons Make Our Mosque Safe From Hate
The faith community has been struggling to deal with their core teachings and deep divisions in their congregations over immigration. It's not always easy for clergy to speak out on immigration reform. Sometimes they don't see eye to eye with their flock. Unity in the Community, the long-time Not In Our Town affiliate in Manassas, VA, has put together Words of Compassion, a collection of relevant resources from a wide variety of religious texts, faith-based organizations and the interfaith community. No matter your stance on the issues, anyone looking to approach the immigration issue from a faith-based perspective should find it tremendously useful. The teachings emphasize the religious bases for acceptance of differences, and recognition of our common humanity.
Nashville, TN: "How terrible that someone would write ‘Muslims Go Home’ when they are home!” exclaimed a neighbor who helped organize a team of volunteers to support Nashville's Muslim community after a mosque was defaced. The community's swift response reaffirmed its commitment to inclusiveness. FEAR INSPIRES HATE
After a hate incident, Fairview Park spreads a message of inclusion