NYC Coalition To Stop Islamophobia Denounces Qu’ran Burnings!

 Press release

New York, NY -- This September 11, the most hateful and violent face of Islamophobia was on full display, in New York City and throughout the United States.
While Terry Jones canceled his horrific “International Burn a Koran [sic] Day” in Florida , two Christian ministers in Springfield , Tennessee burned copies of the Qur’an. (See story here .)
Here in New York City, the Daily News reported that an unidentified man burned pages from a copy of the Qur'an on the sidewalk a few blocks from the site of the proposed Cordoba House community center; the incident was also captured on video. [Law enforcement did not step in to stop what was clearly an act of incitement, given the charged atmosphere of the day, until he had burned several pages. The Daily News reported that another man walked up Church Street , ripping pages from a Koran and offering them to passersby as "toilet paper."]  (See story.)
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka , Kansas , led by hate-mongering pastor Rev. Fred Phelps, also burned a copy of the Qur’an, together with an American flag, to protest against both Islam and homosexuality.  See story here: and here:
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported that a burned and desecrated copy of the Qur’an was found early yesterday at the entrance to a mosque in East Lansing , Michigan . CAIR has called on the FBI to launch a hate crime investigation of the incident.
Meanwhile, leaders of the movement to oppose the Cordoba House held a hate-filled rally against what they insist upon calling the “Ground Zero Mosque.” These leaders have tried to distance themselves from those who would burn the Qur’an, claiming that these are the acts of extremists.
But we see little difference between the words and actions of these “extremists” and the words and actions of the leaders of this movement.
Is it not “extreme” to call for banning the Qur’an, stopping the construction of all mosques, and deporting Muslim citizens, as Geert Wilders, one of the featured speakers at yesterday’s “anti-mosque” rally, has repeatedly done?
Is it not “extreme” to claim that Muslims engage in bestiality and to display images of the prophet Mohammed with the face of a pig, as Pamela Geller, the co-organizer of the rally, has done on her blog “Atlas Shrugs”?
Is it not “extreme” to call for anyone who seems to be “Muslim” to be subjected to strip searches at airports, or to call for those who criticize the government to be locked up for treason, as talk-show host Mike Gallagher, another speaker at the rally, has done?
Is it not “extreme” to compare Muslims to Nazis, as Newt Gingrich, a vociferous leader of the “anti-mosque” movement, has repeatedly done?
The truth is, burning a sacred book is not so different from calling upon that book to be banned, from demonizing all members of a religion or community, from suggesting that a group of people should have their basic rights taken away from them.
Some would like to ignore the more fanatical manifestations of Islamophobia, such as burning the Qur’an, motivated by good intentions: if we focus on such acts, we are simply giving more publicity to those like Terry Jones and Fred Phelps who thrive on media attention.
Unfortunately, once this sort of hatred has been released, it can’t simply be put back in the bottle.
More important, we need to insist that these “extreme” acts are the inevitable result of the larger atmosphere of Islamophobia knowingly unleashed by the opponents of the Cordoba House. They cannot distance themselves from it.
Unless we all decide to take a stand, the weeks and months to come will be filled with more acts of hatred against Muslim communities, more intimidation of our Muslim neighbors, more bigotry and violence.
The New York City Coalition to Stop Islamophobia condemns in the strongest terms all acts of bigotry and violence against Muslims, from the crude hatred shown by those who would burn the Qur’an to the more “sophisticated” Islamophobia of those who perpetuate hateful stereotypes against Muslims and call for the curtailing of their basic rights.
In the weeks to come, we call upon our fellow New Yorkers to show our support for the Cordoba House project; to expose and denounce the bigotry of those who have used fear-mongering and lies to drum up opposition to the Cordoba House, setting loose the current wave of Islamophobia; to reach out to our neighbors in Muslim communities who have come under attack; and to work to educate our fellow New Yorkers, and ourselves, about Islam, as a first step in countering the fear and ignorance that feeds Islamophobia.
We hope that similar efforts will take place throughout the country.
Contact: Contact: Devra Morice, 347-647-1541
                 Tahir Butt, 862-368-6709
  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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