Multi-faith Movements Should Counter U.S. Anti-Muslim Sentiment: UCC Minister

(Photo Credit: United Methodist Women)A United Methodist Women's ad (left) countering another ad by the American Feedom Defense Initiative is seen in a Times Square subway station in New York City on October 2, 2012.

A United Church of Christ minister and peace-building advocate is calling for multi-faith movements to counter U.S. anti-Muslim sentiments as one Washington D.C. –based church prepares to host an interfaith panel to discuss the growing trend and "organized hate activity" in the country.

"Hate movements in the country have gained increased steam and influence in recent years, as documented by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center," the Rev. Susie Hayward, a member of First Congregational UCC in Washington D.C. told UCC News.

"It is imperative that diverse, multi-faith movements of love also gain steam and influence in order to protect our country's diversity, to challenge these hateful messages that spread misinformation and bias, and to stand in solidarity with minority communities made vulnerable by hate. To paraphrase the Rev. Dr. [Martin Luther] King: hate anywhere is a threat to love everywhere."

First Congregational will host panel of social justice and interfaith relationship building advocates on Monday evening that will discuss "this growing trend in anti-Muslim sentiment and organized hate activity in the United States."

The speakers included representatives from the Islamic Society of North America, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Safe Nation Collaborative and Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ. The moderator is from National Public Radio's Interfaith Voices.

The second half of the event will focus on ways the DC interfaith community can organize to challenge the sentiment in the city and around the nation.

Instances of the sentiment which Hayward is referring to have been visible in public transport systems in Washington D.C. and New York.

In October, the conservative group known as the American Freedom Defense Initiative posted ads in Washington D.C. with the sentence: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."

The latest AFDI ads, posted in the New York City transport system, show a picture of the burning towers of the World Trade Center and a phrase attributed to the Quran which states: "Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of unbelievers."

A federal court upheld AFDI's right to air its views in the ads after they were initially pulled due to objections.

"You can draw a line between ADFI's ads that went up in public transit systems across the country this past fall, their new and even more insidious ads placed in New York subway stations this week, and last year's massacre of Sikhs in Wisconsin or the arson of mosques in Joplin or Topeka," Hayward said.

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