STATEMENT ON THE TRAGEDY OF SEPTEMBER 11
We are Americans and Muslims and proud to be both. We are as shocked and horrified by this insane act of terrorists as any other Americans. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families. We also want those responsible to be caught and brought to justice. They may happen to consider themselves Muslims (as Timothy McVey and Slobodon Milosovic may have considered themselves to be Christians) and may even have twisted the teachings of their religion to justify their actions, but terrorism is not the act of any person who understands anything about the teachings of any of the world’s religions. There is no religious justification for such actions.
All Americans of faith need to stand together. Now is a time for dialogue. Ignorance and misunderstanding feed hostility and distrust. Only dialogue can open the possibility for mutual respect and cooperation.
The reactions of some of our fellow Americans are frightening. We are hearing reports from across the country of attacks on mosques, and threats and assaults on individuals. Many mosques and Islamic schools are closed. Not only Muslim’s but also Arab Christians and even Sikhs, Hindus or simply dark skinned people or people wearing ethnic dress have been assaulted because the perpetrators thought they might be Arabs or Muslims.
The mentality that creates terrorists is found among disturbed individuals no matter what their religion or nationality. We have seen the face of evil before - the KKK lynching a black person and burning a cross and singing Christian hymns while doing it or blowing up a church and killing little children in God’s name - the horrible atrocities carried out in Bosnia where Muslim women were raped, people burned alive and tortured in God’s name - the Protestant mob a few weeks ago threatening and screaming obscenities at little Catholic girls trying to go to school and only being restrained from physically harming them by massive police protection in God’s name - Muslims in a mosque in Jerusalem shot down by a Jewish extremist in God’s name - IRA car bombings in London - Palestinians bombing buses carrying civilians - the list goes on and on from around the world - terrorism is used by those who feel powerless against those they see as responsible for whatever political, economic or other grievance they have. Christians, Muslims and Jews all must feel shame for the acts of those who take the name of God in vain in the most terrible way.
Anger against this terrible terrorist act is to be expected, but let us be careful as to where we direct that anger. Fanatics and madmen are not models of the societies that they hail from, nor the religions that they claim. We live in a world that has very real problems that need solutions, but the solution cannot be to blindly attack anyone who happens to be a member of a particular religion, race or nationality. If we do that then we become the same as them.
All of us must be vigilant and courageous in speaking out against hatred, intolerance, bigotry, stereotyping and injustice wherever we encounter them, especially among those who share our religious beliefs.
We have seen enough slaughter, genocide, massacre, revenge, ethnic cleansing and bloodshed - it is time to stand up and be counted among those who stand for good and not to tolerate evil.
We pray that religious freedom and tolerance will not be a collateral victim of this terrible tragedy. We owe it to those who died on Tuesday to build a better world in their name and truly in God’s name.