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Joint Statement by
Bob Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
Ghazi Khankan, Executive Director,
Council on American-Islamic Relations-New York
September 11, 2003

As we remember the victims of the September 11, 2001 tragedy and the loss sustained by their families and friends-including the courageous firefighters, police, and emergency service workers-let us send them our heartfelt condolences and prayers. And let us also remember the enduring strength of our shared religious ideals of freedom, justice and the rule of law, which we must, all of us, defend and protect.

On this second anniversary of the terror attacks, we must come together in a spirit of national unity and respect for America’s religious and racial diversity. Unfortunately, there are those who seek to divide our nation along political, religious and ethnic lines. They are attacking al-Islaam, Muslim-Americans, Arab-Americans, South Asian-Americans and those who are perceived to be one of them.

We must deny both the terrorists and the bigots their victory, in the way we respond to the threats they pose to our nation, by refusing to submit to a world created in their images. They can succeed only if good people fail to challenge all forms of hatred, injustice and bigotry in the world.

Together, we must assert daily God’s commandments of community, tolerance and acceptance, compassion, justice and the sacredness of human life, which lies at the heart of our religious traditions. We must not allow terrorism and bigotry to drive us away from being the people God ordered us to be, and from being the American patriots our constitution empowers us to be.

America and the world must be a safe place for all citizens in all their diversity. It is especially important that we stand firmly for the constitutional rights and freedom of these Americans whose national origins, ethnicity or religious commitments put them in a minority.

As people of faith, we must reach out to each other in a widening circle of friendship in these perilous times, knowing that God Almighty supports our struggle for freedom, justice and peace and our courage to stand up and speak out against injustice everywhere.

We deny the terrorists and the bigots their victory when we behave in ways that honor our nation’s best values and our faiths’ ideals.


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