In light of the recent rise in Islamaphobic rhetoric, several Cooperation Circles in the United States are taking action to support the Muslims in their communities. URI North America has started a social media campaign using the hashtag #ThisIsWhoWeAre to elevate the positive stories of people all over the world living together in peace. You can view the photo essay here and support the campaign by adding the #ThisIsWhoWeAre hashtag to your own photos.
- On Friday, December 18, the Charter for Compassion held an emergency call to address rising Islamophobia and launched an Islamophobia resource guide.
"We are concerned with the escalating, corrosive anti-Muslim rhetoric whipping up Europe and the United States particularly," the group said. "We believe that authoritative voices are so needed right now."
Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell, president of the Charter’s Board of Directors; Imam Malik, Board President of the Parliament for World Religions; and Sari Heidenreich, North American Regional Cresident for United Religions Initiative all spoke on the topic of "Turning our Moral Outrage into Compassionate Action."
- In early December, members of Sun Devils Are Better Together joined with members of the First Congregational UCC in Phoenix to discuss refugees and the refugee crisis.
- In collaboration with United Religions Initiative, leaders from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley united to challenging recent Islamophobic rhetoric and illuminate dialogue and action in solidarity with Muslim communities. Leaders from the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim theological schools gathered on December 17 for a panel discussion, prayer vigil and lecture. Find out more here.
- The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (ICCCC) has kickstarted a "Love Your Muslim Neighbors" program in which they will offer panel conversations with a variety of Muslims speaking about their own experiences to educate congregations and neighbors.
Their hope is to encourage every Masjid (house of prayer) to host Open Houses so community members can get to know, as well as build relationships with, their Muslim neighbors. They currently have two scheduled in January. You can contact Rev. Will McGarvey at email@example.com if you would like more information or are interested in hosting such a panel conversation.
- The Marin Interfaith Council (MIC) encouraged its members to engage with their Muslim neighbors by sending letters of support to the Islamic Centers and Muslim nonprofits in their community.
"I can assure you these letters will be shared with the entire community at appropriate times of their gatherings," said MIC Executive Director Rev. Carol Hovis. " Finally, I encourage all of us to not be strangers, and find times and opportunities to physically visit one of our 3 Muslim communities and participate in a time of prayer or other such gathering."
- The San Francisco Interfaith Council issued a statement highlighting our common desire for a peaceful world and the commitment to advance social justice.
"Current attempts to isolate and demonize our Muslim sisters and brothers violate our common beliefs, indeed our American ideals, and cannot and must not be allowed to prevail," the group said in a statement.
- On December 14, the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) denounced the rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric targeted at both Muslim Americans and those fleeing Syria.
"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," the statement read. "We stand together with them and join them in condemning those who would hijack Islam for their own purposes."
SiVIC will participate in an event on December 16, organized by local Muslim communities, to stand in solidarity with the families of the victims of the San Bernadino shooting. The Muslim Community Association, South Bay Islamic Association, Evergreen Islamic Center, Blossom Valley Muslim Community Center and many San Francisco Bay Area Mosques will gather at the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara.
- Members of SARAH and Culver City Interfaith Alliance Cooperation Circles attended an interfaith rally honoring the religious diversity of Southern California in Los Angeles on Sunday, December 13. The show of solidarity took place on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall, in communion with the Mayor of San Bernardino, the Mayor of Los Angeles and local faith leaders.
- Unity-and-Diversity World Council, along with roughlty 20 co-sponsoring organziations, gathered on December 12 for their annual Interfaith Celebration of light. This year's theme was "Reverence For Life," which each of the co-sponsors spoke about during a time of sharing.
- The Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada joined the Muslim community of Las Vegas for a prayer vigil for the innocent victims of violence in both the East and the West. The event took place at the Jamai Masjid in Las Vegas on December 13 and was covered by the Las Vegas Sun. This violence, they said, is causing subsequent fear and hateful backlash towards American Muslims.
"When violent perpetrators want to induce fear, hate, and scorn, we all must reject violence in the name of religion. We must increase our efforts as faith communities and people of principles to determine our own future and hold ourselves to live up to our professed ideals as practitioners of our respective and constitutionally protected faiths," they said in an email.
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Sun
- The Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada is also joining with a budding movement of entitled "No Violence in the Name of Religion" (NVNR) to sponsor a community dinner. The NVNR movement is an effort started by the Muslim community "to challenge the violence being perpetrated in the name of our religion, and religion in general." Read more here.
- The URI Northeast Tennessee Chapter Cooperation Circle is running a half page ad in the Johnson City Press newspaper to voice their support for the Muslim neighbors and refugees. You can read the letter, signed by over 100 community members, here.
- Dozens gathered on the steps of the Washington County Courthouse in Tennessee on December 20 to show respect for their Muslim neighbors and stand up for religious freedom in the midst of the current state of tensions.
"We are standing witness to the respect of our Muslim neighbors that contibute so much to the community and bring so much richness," said Rev. Jacqueline Luck, member of the URI Northeast Tennessee Chapter Cooperation Circle. " And, also, we're standing up for freedom of religion because it's very important that Muslims are allowed, as everybody else, to worship as they want to."
Luck said the rally was spurred by the amount of hateful rhetoric, misinformation and fear mongering that's going on in the US.
"We wanted to just be a positive witness to the good," she said.
The rally was highlighted in an article by Jessica Fuller in the Johnson City Press. One of her photos is to the left and you can read her article here.
- On December 20, three hosting communities of The Walk DC will open their doors for a pilgrimage walk to "reconfirm their commitment to supporting the Good of humanity, and offer encouragement and Light to all."
The walk will start at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, move to the National Cathedral and commence at the Islamic Center of Washington. At each site, there will be a call to prayer, short scripture reading, and brief reflection. The event will start at 2 pm and center around the theme of "Faith over Fear, Unity over Extremism."
If you're looking for inspiration, with toolkits, toolcards, sample social media posts and graphics, the Talking Back To Hate campaign has a robust library of resources and ideas for taking positive action in response to hate. The Charter for Compassion has also just published an Islamophobia Resource Guide. In response to requests from Cooperation Circles to mobilize action, URI Co-Director of Global Programs Sally Mahe put together a few ideas. Click here to read these ideas and share your own! You can also read her 2010 guide on Responding to Hostilities Against Faith Communities.
Has YOUR Cooperation Circle taken action to respond to the rising Islamaphobia in recent weeks? If so, please share in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.