(ANAHEIM, CA, 5/6/10) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) announced today that Southern California Christian leaders are urging a Lancaster Councilwoman to stop engaging in anti-Muslim rhetoric, and instead support the traditional American values of equality and pluralism.
In a recent Facebook posting, Councilwoman Sherry Marquez promoted the inflammatory “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” event, which was initiated by a Seattle cartoonist who has since backed away from the anti-Muslim sentiment generated by her proposed contest.
SEE: Apologetic ‘Draw Muhammad’ Cartoonist Urges ‘Draw Al Gore’ Instead
Earlier this year, Marquez wrote in reference to a murder trial in New York involving a Muslim defendant: “This is what the Muslim religion is all about – the beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is to come in the USA. We are told this is a small majority [sic] of Muslim’s [sic] in America, but it is truly what they are all about…You disrespect/dishonor them or their religion and you should die (they don’t even blink at killing their own wives/daughters, because they are justified by their religion)…”
SEE: Councilwoman Marquez Faces Criticism Over Anti-Muslim Comments
One of her Facebook postings also features an image of a mosque with a red line across it, accompanied by text stating, “Against Sharia Law.”
In response to Marquez’s most recent Facebook posting, Christian leaders in the Southland issued statements urging Marquez to stop behaving in a manner unbecoming of an elected official.
“Councilwoman Sherry Marquez appears to delight in provoking needless and destructive religious conflict and mistrust. She has demonstrated in the recent past that she neither understands nor respects the ancient Muslim faith…I join many other people of faith and conscience in calling on Sherry Marquez to stop fanning the flames of Islamophobia and bigotry in our region,” said Rev. Peter Laarman, executive director of Progressive Christians Uniting.
“Councilwoman Marquez: not only is your invitation, as an elected official, a violation of our Constitution it is also a violation of a basic tenet of Christianity which is ‘love of God and love of neighbor’…As a Christian, I ask you to model the inclusivity, reconciliation, and peace that Jesus brought to our troubled world,” said the Rev. Canon Dr. Gwynne Guibord, co-founder and co-chair of the Christian-Muslim Consultative Group.
“At a time when Sherry Marquez should exhibit leadership and courage by engaging in dialogue with her Muslim friends and neighbors as well as creating an atmosphere to help build bridges of understanding, her actions have led to the exact opposite,” said Rev. Jerald M. Stinson, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church of Long Beach.
SEE: Statements by Christian Leaders
“We thank our friends in the Christian community who remain strong advocates for harmony and mutual understanding and a force against fringe elements who seek to divide Americans along religious lines,” said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-LA.
Over the past several months, the Antelope Valley area has been marred by a series of religiously divisive incidents.
An Antelope Valley area pastor recently published a newspaper advertisement supporting Councilwoman Marquez, defaming Islam’s teachings and calling Muslims the “antichrist.” The pastor also quoted Marquez’s Facebook posting, saying “we have only seen ‘the beginning of what is to come in the U.S.A.'”
Last month, area residents raised concern over the passage of a ballot measure that might encourage sectarian prayers at the start of city council meetings.
Earlier this year, Lancaster Mayor Rex Parris stated in his “State of the City” address: “We’re growing a Christian community, and don’t let anybody shy away from that…I need (the Lancaster community) standing up and saying we’re a Christian community, and we’re proud of that.” The mayor later apologized for his remark.
SEE: Mayor Apologizes for Remarks
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. 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 Manager Munira Syeda, 714-776-1847 or 714-851-4851, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org