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Arab American News: Officials, interfaith and civil rights activists condemn bigotry

Arab American News

Detroit, MI, December 22, 2015 | Ali Harb

Heads of civil rights organizations, interfaith activists, government officials and religious leaders gathered at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history to condemn the rising tides of Islamophobia, which are manifesting as hate crimes across the nation.

Speakers from the group dubbed "One Nation, One Voice Against Bigotry and Hate Coalition" took turns denouncing xenophobia and promoting unity at a press conference on Monday morning. 

Nabih Ayad, chairman of the Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL), said those on the path of hate are on the wrong side of history.

"We know very well that diversity inherently is very strong for this nation and for this community," he said. 

Democratic U.S. Reps speak out

U.S. Reps. John Conyers (D-Detroit), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) took part in the event and voiced support for the local Muslim community.

"How wonderful it is to see in this important hall a group of men and women, leaders of many different organizations, coming together to speak out and encourage the diversity that marks us a great area," Conyers, the dean of the House of Representatives, said.

Congresswoman Lawrence urged Americans to speak up against discrimination.

"History has taught us that the biggest threat to our democracy is silence," she said.

She said allowing bigotry to go on against one group puts the entire society at risk.

"Collectively, if we raise our voices and not be silent, we can make a difference," Lawrence added. "We can show those who are misinformed that hatred will not be tolerated; not in this country, not in southeast Michigan." 

Rep. Dingell stressed that metro Detroit residents are united. She described Arab and Muslim Americans as friends and colleagues.

"They are our neighbors; they are our small business owners; they are our doctors," she said. "Steve Jobs’ father was a Syrian and he [Jobs] was one of the greatest inventors of this country."

She said anti-Muslim sentiments violate the fundamental founding principles of the United States.

"Stop," Dingell said, addressing those who promote anti-Muslim bigotry. "Enough is enough. It's not who we are as Americans."

The congresswoman said she will scream if she is asked about Muslims' denouncing terrorism again.

"They're speaking out every day, but the media is not covering it," she added.

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