STATEMENT BY KARAMAH: MUSLIM WOMEN LAWYERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
ON MEETING WITH PRESIDENT BUSH
[September 19, 2001] The Executive Director of Karamah, Professor Azizah al-Hibri, along with other Muslim leaders, met with President George W. Bush at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C. on Monday, September 17th.
The President met with the Muslim leaders in major part to convey strongly his message of tolerance and unity among Americans. In his public statement at the mosque he stated that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace.” He added that “those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow [Muslim] citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.” He also stressed that “moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America.” (See below for full transcript of remarks.)
The presidential public address was preceded by a private meeting in which the President emphasized his message of unity and tolerance, and various Muslim leaders expressed their thoughts, feelings, and concerns about recent events. It was noted that of the approximately 5,000 missing victims in New York, 500 were Muslim. Like the rest of the nation, American Muslims were also victims of these recent attacks.
Professor al-Hibri stated that she was heartened by the expressions of kindness, compassion, and support by many fellow Americans towards American Muslims, and by the President’s deliberate, patient, and reasoned approach towards the crisis. She also pointed out that “when people’s lives are devalued, they tend to devalue the lives of others.”
According to the Imam of the mosque, President Bush is only the second United States president to visit the center since President Dwight Eisenhower.
Washington DC, Sept. 17--The following is a transcript of President Bush's remarks made at the Islamic Center of Washington, DC.
"Thank you all very much for your hospitality. We've just had a wide-ranging discussions on the matter at hand. Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday's attacks. And so were Muslims all across the world. Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens.
These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself: In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.
The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war. When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that's made brothers and sisters out of every race-- out of every race.
America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect. Women who cover their heads in this country must feel comfortable going outside their homes. Moms who wear cover must be not intimidated in America. That's not the America I know. That's not the America I value.
I've been told that some fear to leave; some don't want to go shopping for their families; some don't want to go about their ordinary daily routines because, by wearing cover, they're afraid they'll be intimidated. That should not and that will not stand in America.
Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.
This is a great country. It's a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth. And it is my honor to be meeting with leaders who feel just the same way I do. They're outraged, they're sad. They love America just as much as I do.
I want to thank you all for giving me a chance to come by. And may God bless us all."
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