Twenty-eight civil rights and faith organizations have issued an open letter calling for unity and condemning media's “recent rhetoric that exploits” the tragic terrorist attacks in Paris, “to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees.”
Signers of the letter noted that the “bigotry and hate” found in recent rhetoric “has been sadly reminiscent” of the responses to the terrorist attacks at the Parisian Charlie Hebdo magazine in January. The letter condemned the “countless leaders and media personalities” that have exploited the attacks “to call for more discriminatory profiling” of the Muslim community, “claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS,” and called for “an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror,” relying “on historical context and multiple perspectives” that are inclusive.
The letter writers also condemned Fox News' anti-refugee rhetoric, and specifically called out Rupert Murdoch - executive co-chairman of Fox's parent company - for “cloak[ing] their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad,” and called for public leaders to “refrain from religious bigotry and focus on unity in the aftermath” of the Paris tragedy:
We, the undersigned civil rights advocates and faith leaders, write to express deep concern about recent rhetoric that exploits the tragic attacks in Paris to misrepresent Islam, call for more profiling of Muslims, and demonize Muslim refugees. Dividing Americans at a time when we need to be united not only hurts our democracy -- it hurts our standing in the world.
The bigotry and hate we've witnessed in the last few days has sadly been reminiscent of the response to January's terrorist attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Media figures and public officials have taken to social media and the airwaves to claim Islam is inherently violent and conflate all of Islam with ISIS, disregarding hundreds of millions of Muslims who fight for the cause of freedom and democracy every day. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio compared Muslims to Nazis during an interview with George Stephanopoulos on ABC's This Week. Hosts on CNN International berated the spokesperson of a French Muslim outreach group because he would not agree that all Muslims share “responsibility” for the attacks.
It is extremely concerning that countless leaders and media personalities have also used the tragedy to call for more discriminatory profiling of American Muslims, including Donald Trump who told MSNBC “you're going to have to watch and study the mosques,” and Rep. Peter King who said that increased surveillance of Muslim communities is warranted because “that's where the threat is coming from.”
Others have cloaked their bigotry in their opposition to welcoming refugee families fleeing from violence abroad. Foxcontributors and too many others have endorsed closing US borders to Muslim refugees -- even going so far as to claim, “there are real refugees among the people fleeing Syria and they're Christians.” News Corp. and 21st Century Fox executive co-chairman Rupert Murdoch echoed this endorsement, suggesting that President Barack Obama “make [a] special exception for proven Christians” when considering refugees in the wake of recent attacks in Paris. In recent days, more than half of governors have said they won't accept Syrian refugees even though none of them have the power to turn them away from a safe place to call home.
The American people depend on all leaders and media for an open and disciplined debate about acts of terror and ways to respond relying on historical context and multiple perspectives, including those from Muslim, Sikh, Arab, South Asian and other communities here in the U.S. and abroad. To those leaders and media figures who have responsibly relied on multiple and diverse perspectives and the facts, we thank you and ask that you continue doing so.
To those who are responsible for the divisive rhetoric we detail above, we call on you to refrain from religious bigotry and focus instead on unity in the aftermath of this tragedy. There are real consequences to creating an anti-Muslim climate.
The entire letter, which has been signed by the Advancement Project, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the Arab American Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Los Angeles, the American Civil Liberties Union, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Center for New Community, Color Of Change, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Networks Group (ING), Million Hoodies For Justice, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the NAACP, the National Disability Rights Network, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, National Sikh Campaign, Race Forward, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), The Interfaith Center of New York, T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, The Sikh Coalition, UNITED SIKHS, United We Dream, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and 9to5: National Association of Working Women, can be found here: