Muslim Group Urges Americans to Meet their Neighbors

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia – Horrified by the fatalities in Charlottesville white supremacist rally, an American Muslim group has urged Muslims nationwide to host events to meet their neighbors and speak out against racism and xenophobia without dehumanizing and demonizing the other.

“The events in Charlottesville should be a call to action for reaching out across our deep divisions with civility, especially with those whose views we find abhorrent,” Islamic Networks Group (ING) said in a statement published on their website.

“We can and do change our minds about our fellow citizens but it takes commitment to both the means and the end. The means is respectful dialogue, which is critical in strong, pluralistic democracies like ours.”

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Last Saturday, white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members clashed with protesters at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The fringe groups gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

During the rally, a car plowed into the crowd, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others. James Alex Fields Jr., 20, the alleged driver of the vehicle, has been charged with second-degree murder, hit and run, and three counts of malicious wounding.

The events shocked the American community, as Trump declined from calling white supremacist attacks as terrorism.

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Taking a step in the right direction, the ING urged American people of all faiths to host know your neighbors events nationwide. “

The need for active dialogue won’t go away anytime soon, and the Know Your Neighbor program, a nationwide coalition of faith- and community-based organizations, social justice campaigners, and civil rights activists, has committed itself to this task.

“The eighty-two members of the coalition based across all fifty United States provide tools, educational programs, interfaith training, dialogue resources, and in-person opportunities to strengthen our social fabric by relating to each other in simple ways. Visit our site to join the effort.”

ING call came to end a blame game that has been going on in the US recently.

“We like to place blame after public tragedies. The neo-Nazis and racists who — emboldened by tacit acceptance of their beliefs by far too many people in public office — organized the rally in a town that didn’t want them,” the group wrote.

“The Black Bloc and Antifa counterprotesters who attacked and pepper-sprayed Confederate-flag-waving protesters, raising the general tension at the event. The Charlottesville and Virginia State police who stood by when things turned dangerous.

“Ourselves, for letting things get to a point where hundreds of our fellow citizens felt it necessary to boldly and proudly declare that “Jews will not replace us” or “Blood and soil” or “America is for white people”.

“We, too, are complicit. We need to speak out (as the counterprotesters tried to do) with a prophetic voice against racism and xenophobia — but without dehumanizing and demonizing (let alone physically attacking) the human beings who are swayed by these attitudes.”