(LOS ANGELES, 8/7/08) – A group of Southern California interfaith leaders and community activists today sent a joint letter to the office of Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) urging him to stop using language that links the faith of Islam to terrorism.
In recent newsletters and speeches, Rep. Royce has repeatedly used phrases such as “Islamist terrorism” to refer to acts of violence and terror.
In the letter, local interfaith and community leaders stated:
“Congressman Royce, using this type of language may not only offend and alienate the overwhelming majority of Muslims, who abhor violence, but it may also unintentionally legitimize terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and other anti-American forces….
“According to the Homeland Security recommendations, by using phrases like ‘Islamic terrorism,’ U.S. officials and representatives may be ‘unintentionally portraying terrorists, who lack moral and religious legitimacy, as brave fighters, legitimate soldiers or spokesman for ordinary Muslims.’
“The report also urges ‘caution in using terms such as ‘jihadist,’ ‘Islamist,’ and ‘holy warrior’ as grandiose descriptions,’ to avoid associating acts of violence or terrorism with religious concepts.”
“Stereotyping or profiling, though easily done, is destructive to human relations that are needed to bring about understanding, justice, and peace,” said Dr. Ed Linberg, Associate Pastor of First Christian Church in Fullerton.
Rabbi Steven Jacobs, founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation, added: ”American Jews are all too familiar with institutional bigotry. It is alarming that an elected official uses Muslims as political scapegoats associated with global tragedies including terrorism and war to instill fear and hatred. We, in the Interfaith Community, condemn this policy of divide and conquer for political purposes. We welcome Congressman Royce to sit with us and learn the art of cooperation, not confrontation.”
“There is nothing ‘Islamic’ about terrorism,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Greater Los Angeles Area. “It is offensive and wrong to make such an association, whether it is done by the terrorists themselves or our elected officials.”
Signatories to the letter are awaiting a response from the congressman’s office.
CAIR has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-Greater Los Angeles Area Communications Coordinator Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847 or 714-851-4851; E-mail: email@example.com