(SANTA CLARA, CA, 5/30/2008) – The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA), in collaboration with the Middle East Peace Program, organized a three-part series of interfaith forums across the bay area in May, calling for unity against racism.
The three forums were held at the Kehilla Synagogue in Piedmont, the Universalist Unitarian Church in San Francisco, and the Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara.
The central theme of the events was confronting Islamophobia and anti-Semitism because their roots are the same: fear, ignorance, and misinformation. The events aimed to find common ground in the shared experience of racism in all three faiths and to unite against the problem.
The final forum at the MCA was held on Sunday, May 25 and included members of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities gathered to share their personal stories about Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, and to devise strategies on how to confront and combat these problems.
The forum opened with speeches from faith leaders who shared their personal stories of racism and discrimination. Rabbi Pamela Frydman Baugh, Administration Director of OHALAH: Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal, told the audience that discrimination is always a problem not only between faiths but also within, and that everyone should do their best to raise the issue publicly.
Linda Blagburn of the Presbytery of San Francisco, said that while it is easy to assume that the scourge of racism is over, we should remain as vigilant as ever. She said her own children still face discrimination as African-Americans and racism still occurs within her church.
Imam Tahir Anwar of the South Bay Islamic Association reminded the audience, that while it seems that Muslims are currently a primary target of racism and discrimination, this could easily change in a few years and the focus of hate transferred to other groups. For this reason, everyone should work together to eliminate racism.
Discussions among all participants produced suggestions for combating prejudice, including creating a curriculum and culture of sharing stories through schools, organizing events where children get to know one another through food and culture, or reaching out to young adults through YouTube or other media channels.
CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, 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-SFBA Civil Rights & Outreach Coordinator Agnes Chong, Tel: 408.986.9874, E-Mail: email@example.com