—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
JAMAICA, New York (January 7, 2012) – The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) issued a press release today welcoming the invitation to join the Coalition to End Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Bigotry.
“The negative reaction to TLC’s All American Muslim is a prime example of the rise of bigotry and anti-Muslim sentiment across the nation,” said Dr. Zahid Bukhari, President of ICNA. “ICNA has long recognized this threat to the values of American society and launched the ‘Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah’ campaign in May 2011 to educate the public on Shariah in specific and Islam in general.”
“We are truly honored to join the Coalition to End Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Bigotry as part of our ongoing efforts to fight prejudice against American Muslims. These organizations and individuals are taking a stand by uniting in the face of racism and bigotry towards American Muslims and other minority faith groups in our society. We look forward to working with our brothers and sisters of various faiths, races, orientations and political leanings to battle Islamophobia and hatred in all forms.”
KEY MISSION OF THE COALITION TO END ISLAMOPHOBIA & ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY:
Who we are:
We are a united coalition of religious and political leaders, the interfaith community, communities of color, civil rights and LGBT groups, and social justice activists – everyday Americans of all walks of life – standing up for religious freedom and tolerance for all Americans.
Core Idea: There is a rapidly growing groundswell of Americans—including people of faith and moral commitment—standing up for religious freedom, standing against attacks on people simply because they are different, and speaking out against companies and corporations that allow fringe hate groups to affect their hiring, management and advertising practices.** This group of Americans recognizes that the most powerful means to ending to these attacks on religious freedom in America is by banding together and forming a unified front to combat these issues.
** Included in this group of companies is Lowe’s and Kayak’s decision to pull advertisements from TLC’s reality TV series “All American Muslim.”
Supporting Idea 1:
The United States of America was founded on the principle of freedom of religion. Today, America is the most religiously diverse country in the world. Our country’s strength comes precisely from its diversity. Fringe groups that promote Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry are undermining the very foundation of America, and they are threatening the values of upon which our country was built.
Supporting Idea 2:
By censoring and preventing honest portrayals of everyday American Muslim life from entering the public view via mainstream media, anti-Muslim groups further perpetuate stereotypes that inspire fear, hatred, and violence directed toward Muslims across the nation.
The good news and call to action:
Hundreds of thousands of Americans have spoken up in support of TLC for its courageous decision to produce and broadcast the groundbreaking series “All-American Muslim,” at a time when the public perception of Islam and Muslims is at an all-time low, and ignorance about the religion and its followers is widespread. We are rallying our congregations, communities, elected officials, our friends and our families to let American companies know that caving into groups that seek to divide our nation by stigmatizing and harming our fellow Americans is wrong. It is time that put an end to Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry.
Our Three Unifying Goals:
1. To denounce the smear campaign launched by what has come to be known as the “Islamophobia industry,” which has most recently waged a boycott campaign against “All-American Muslim” and TLC’s advertisers, and that continues to seek new ways to marginalize Islam and Muslims in the public eye. In this specific instance, the campaign attacking “All-American Muslim” was initiated by the FFA, but has been joined by both well-known members of the Islamophobia industry as well as more marginal members. The primary promoters of this campaign have been Robert Spencer and “Jihad Watch,” Pamela Geller and “Atlas Shrugs,” Geller and Spencer’s AFDI/SIOA, Brigitte Gabriel and ACT! for America, as well as many relatively marginal groups like the FFA and the American Decency Project. These organizations have been condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and a slew of other civil rights and human rights organizations for their malicious campaign to instill fear and hatred against Muslims in America.**
**The ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT! for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda,” and The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated AFDI/SIOA as a hate group.
2. We ask corporate America to take a stand against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry, just as they would against any other form of bigotry or racism. The hate groups mentioned above claim to have convinced a large number of companies to bend to their fear campaigns. Although some of these corporations have publicly repudiated the claims, many have yet to state their position either in support of or against their affiliation with said fringe groups. These companies’ customers, as well as all American consumers, deserve to know where these corporations stand and whether or not they have indeed been swayed by the bullying tactics of fringe hate groups. We want these companies to take an official pledge that:
» They will not yield to coercion by fringe and/or hate groups of any kind.
» Racism and bigotry will play no part in their advertising decisions.
» Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry will be recognized as equal to all other forms of
bigotry, including racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia.
3. We, as a united coalition of hundreds of thousands of Americans, say Enough is Enough, and we declare that Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry are on par with all other forms of bigotry, including racism, sexism, Anti-Semitism, and homophobia. An assault on any one of us is an assault against all of us, and will be treated as such.
List of people who have been supporting this campaign and who have been invited to join the Coalition:
Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance)
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN)
NJ State Majority Leader, Barbara Buono (D)
Mayor Cory Booker (D)
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Hansen Clarke (D MI-13)
Barbara Lee (D CA-9)
Bennie G. Thomson (D MS-2)
Dennis J. Kucinich (D OH-10)
Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D NJ-8)
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D- IL-2)
Adam B. Schiff (D CA-29)
Raul M. Grijalva (D AZ-7)
James P. Morgan (D VA-8)
John D. Dingell (D MI-15)
Michael M. Honda (D CA-15)
Donna F. Edwards (D MD-4)
Chellie Pingree (D ME-1)
Gwen Moore (D WI-4)
Loretta Sanchez (D CA-47)
David E. Price (D NC-4)
Jay Inslee (D WA-1)
John C. Carney, Jr. (D DE-AL)
John W. Olver (D MA-1)
Judy Chu (D CA-32)
Zoe Lofgren (D CA-16)
Rosa L. Delauro (D CT-3)
Fortney “Pete” Stark (D CA-13)
Alcee L. Hastings (D FL-23)
John B. Larson (D CT-1)
André Carson (D IN-7)
Gary C. Peters (D MI-9)
James A. Himes (D CT-4)
Janice D. Schakowsky (D IL-9)
Tammy Baldwin (D WI-2)
Kimora Lee Simmons
Roland S. Martin
Rev. Chuck Curie
Rabbi Marc Schneier
Rev. Ed Bacon
Shaykh Suhaib Webb
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
Rev. Charles E. Williams II
Rev. J. Carl Gregg
Rev. Peter Laarman
Sheila Musaji (The American Muslim)
Robert Greenwald, Brave New Films
Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
Russell Simmons Group
Groundswell (social action initiative of Auburn Seminary)
Shoulder to Shoulder
Commonweal & Young Progressive Catholics
The National Councils of Churches
All Saints Episcopal
Colorado Muslim Speakers Bureau
African American Ministers Leadership Council
Historic King Solomon Baptist Church of Detroit Michigan
National Council for Community Empowerment
Human Rights Coalition (HRC)
The Islamic Circle of North America is a leading American Muslim organization dedicated to the betterment of society through the promotion of Islamic values. Since 1968, ICNA has worked to build relations between communities by devoting itself to education, outreach, social services and relief efforts.
Press Contact: Naeem Baig
Vice President for Public Affairs
Islamic Circle of North America
Office: (718) 658-1199 Extension: 102
Cell: (917) 202-2118