From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
NCCCUSA, Muslim Leaders Agree to Monthly Meetings in Sept. 11's Wake
Carol Fouke <email@example.com>
Fri, 28 Sep 2001 14:23:06 -0700
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.
Contact: NCC News, 212-870-2252; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncccusa.org
NCC9/28/01 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NCC, MUSLIM LEADERS AGREE TO MONTHLY MEETINGS IN SEPT. 11'S WAKE
September 28, 2001, NEW YORK CITY - Concerned to build interfaith
understanding and stop the wave of hate crimes that has followed in the wake
of the September 11 terrorist attacks, National Council of Churches General
Secretary Bob Edgar invited prominent Muslim leaders to meet with him on
Wednesday, September 26.
Dr. Edgar and his four guests agreed to a regular pattern of consultation
among Christian and Muslim leaders, beginning with monthly meetings. This
builds on a foundation laid by the Council's Interfaith Relations Commission
over the past 25 years, which has included periodic meetings (but not the
regular consultation now planned) with Muslim leaders and production of
resources for interfaith understanding for use in local communities.
They agreed that a top priority was to work together to help major media
producers demonstrate more sensitivity to Muslims and provide better
information about Islam.
After the meeting, Dr. Edgar reported, "My Muslim guests and I shared our
grief at the loss of innocent lives in New York City, Pennsylvania and
Washington, D.C., as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks. We
shared our repudiation of the attacks and of any who distort Islam, turning
a religion of peace into a justification for murder.
"We celebrated the fact that many Christians are reaching out to their
neighbors of Islamic and other faiths. At the same time, we shared our
dismay and disgust at hate crimes against innocent people and the resulting
fear in Muslim, Sikh and other faith and ethnic communities across our
nation," he said.
Dr. Edgar said he was saddened to learn of the more than 500 attacks on
Muslim individuals or institutions across the United States since September
11, and of the extent of fear felt by Muslims, especially Muslim young
"Never has interfaith understanding and cooperation been more important than
it is today," Dr. Edgar said. "The peace of our neighborhoods, and the true
security of nations around the world may well turn on our capacity to build
communities of respect and to bear witness together for justice and peace."
Dr. Edgar said that he and the Muslim leaders had shared deep concern about
how the media presents Islam and Muslims. For example, Muslims are not
often enough acknowledged as part of the positive fabric of American
society - doctors, nurses, judges, teachers, legislators, managers and
business people -- valued colleagues, loving parents and good neighbors.
In one of several initiatives to this end, the NCC is among groups
circulating an interfaith "sign-on" statement, "Deny Them Their Victory: A
Religious Response to Terrorism," that to date has been signed by more than
2,800 Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and others. The statement offers
both "a word of consolation for the untold pain and suffering of our people"
and "a word of sober restraint as our nation discerns what its response will
After Wednesday's meeting with Muslim leaders, Dr. Edgar said, "We will move
forward with the Muslim community both to heal the wounds of the recent
events and to work together for peace. I am committed to bring the same
kind of resolve for peace and cooperation to this effort as our Muslim
friends have demonstrated in meeting with us."
Attending the meeting were: Mr. Aziz Ahsan, representing the Islamic Society
of North America; Mr. Naeem Baig and Mr. Shams Zaman, Secretary General and
Assistant Secretary General of the Islamic Circle of North America; and Mr.
Ghazi Khankan, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic
Relations -- New York. Imam Izak-el Pasha, spiritual leader of Masjid
Malcolm Shabbaz was, at the last moment, unable to attend.
The National Council of Churches, whose 36 Protestant and Orthodox member
communions include 50 million adherents in 140,000 local congregations, has
an active program of dialogue with people of other faiths, including Jews,
Buddhists, practitioners of Native American traditional ways, and other
faiths in our multi-religious nation, Dr. Edgar noted.
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