(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/23/05) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on local and national leaders to address growing anti-Muslim sentiment in our society following an apparently intentional desecration of the Quran in Nashville, Tenn. CAIR said Islamic leaders in Nashville reported Wednesday that an Arabic-language copy of Islam’s revealed text was torn, burned, covered with excrement and left outside an East Nashville housing complex that is home to many Muslim families. As word of the desecration spread through the Islamic community, dozens of Muslims reportedly gathered at the site of the desecration to express their outrage. Metropolitan Nashville Police Department Lt. Steve Hewitt told CAIR Wednesday night: “Clearly we have to be open-minded to the possibility it is a hate crime.” He said it was still too early in the investigation to make a final determination as to motive and that he has informed the local office of the FBI about the case. “It would be difficult to come up with a scenario in which this incident was not bias-motivated,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Our nation’s leaders need to address what seems to be a growing level of intolerance and anti-Muslim sentiment in American society.” Awad asked people of conscience in Tennessee and throughout the nation to repudiate anti-Muslim bigotry by obtaining and reading a Quran.
CAIR made that same request earlier this month when burned copies of the Quran were found outside a Virginia mosque. Local police and the FBI are treating that incident as a possible hate crime. SEE: “Burned Korans Found at Va. Islamic Center” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/06/16/AR2005061601468.html On Tuesday, CAIR urged judges meeting in North Carolina to allow use of the Quran when administering oaths. CAIR issued that call after a Guilford County judge said that an oath taken on the Quran is not a lawful oath under state law. SEE: “Judge’s Statements Spark Controversy” http://www.news-record.com/news/local/gso/quranreax_062205.htm [On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that a man in Texas was sentenced to 171 months imprisonment for attempting to firebomb the Islamic Center of El Paso.] Following allegations that Guantanamo guards desecrated Islam’s holy text, CAIR launched a campaign, called “Explore the Quran,” designed to provide free Qurans to Americans of all faiths. Some 14,000 of people have already taken advantage of that offer. To obtain or sponsor a free Quran, go to: http://www.explorethequran.org/ For background on CAIR’s ‘Explore the Quran” campaign, see: USA Today: “Getting the Holy Word Out” http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2005-06-01-koran_x.htm
CAIR, America’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding. To read CAIR’s Mission, Vision Statement and Core Principles, go to: http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page=About
NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist’s window to the American Muslim community. Subscribers to the list, called ISLAM-INFONET, receive news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance to our society. To SUBSCRIBE to ISLAM-INFONET, go to: http://cair.biglist.com/islam-infonet/