A couple of months ago in the face of statements that had already been made by many in the political arena that sought to stir up and focus hostility toward our Muslim brothers and sisters, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) joined with several other local and national organizations to speak out against the rhetoric and in favor of the values of our common humanity: mutual respect, understanding, and compassion.
Since then, things have only gotten worse. Too many are prepared to foster suspicion and fear not only against Syrian refugees fleeing death and destruction in their own lands, but against our neighbors, friends, and co-citizens here in the United States. Those who foster fear and suspicion are placing the blame on an entire segment of our own people for the actions of a few violent individuals claiming religious justification for their attacks.
We are distressed to hear how our Muslim friends and neighbors are living in fear, and even more distressed to hear of harassment, abuse, and attacks that have actually taken place. We stand together with them and join them in condemning those who would hijack Islam for their own purposes.
Violent individuals may use scripture or religion to shore up their hostility and to attempt to undergird their legitimacy and authority. These strategies have persuasive power because they touch on and manipulate deep psychological issues of authority, communal identity, relationships, and attitudes towards those named as “outsiders.” These very same potentially violent dynamics underlie current campaign rhetoric, as they provide a way for candidates to manipulate the truth in their efforts to win an election.
We are still nearly a year away from the election, and there is no reason to anticipate that the rhetoric of suspicion and fear will go away any time soon. We commit ourselves to upholding the human rights and freedom of all members of our society. We commit to continuing to reach out to those of different religious traditions and of no religious tradition. Our coming together is not something new, but an ever-growing and emphatic affirmation of who we are as a people.
Here in Silicon Valley we know that what makes for a great America is not division, suspicion, fear or demonizing of others. We are great because we stand together—people of diverse cultures, languages, traditions, and religions who work together to make the world better for all of us. Together we seek to build a more just and compassionate society.
NOTE: Two opportunities to join our Muslim communities this week:
Wednesday, December 16, 2015, 6:30 pm: Stand Together in Solidarity
Muslim Community Association, 3003 Scott Blvd., Santa Clara
Join the Muslim Community Association, South Bay Islamic Association, Evergreen Islamic Center, Blossom Valley Muslim Community Center and many Bay Area Mosques for a solidarity event with the Victims' families of the San Bernardino Shooting. Sponsored by Bay Area Mosques Coalition.
Saturday, December 19, 2015, 1:00 – 4:00 pm, Eid Festival (Celebration of Muslim Holidays)
First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto
A special opportunity to learn how Muslims celebrate their holidays. Three panelists from Islam, Christianity and Judaism will share how they celebrate their holidays, followed by Q & A and table sharing to encourage dialog and to learn about each other’s holiday traditions. Sponsored by American Muslim Voice.
Details on the SiVIC Events Calendar