Homegrown and international terrorism are serious threats to countries and people around the world. We strongly believe that every nation should take the prudent steps necessary to enhance the safety and security of its people. The United States is no different. Making and keeping America and its people safe must always be one of the highest priorities of our government.
We therefore support any and all actions taken by the U.S. government to secure the safety of the people within its borders, provided these actions meet certain basic conditions. They must be compatible with constitutional and democratic norms.; they must be consistent with our fundamental commitment to universal moral values, especially the inherent dignity of every human person; and they must strengthen and not jeopardize our relationships with people around the world who see us as a key ally and even a global leader in our mutual quest to end violence in the pursuit of justice and peace.
Time and again, the vast majority of the world’s Muslims have proven themselves to be our stalwart partners in the fight against terrorism, a fact which should come as no surprise given that, in so many different regional contexts, Muslims themselves make up the majority of those suffering from violent extremism. It is for this reason that we strongly support the pursuit of a national security strategy intent on keeping Americans safe by strengthening our bonds with all our global partners in peace, especially key Muslim-majority societies.
It is for this very same reason that we question the wisdom and efficacy of the recent executive order enacting a sweeping temporary travel ban from seven Muslim-majority nations, including a ban on the immigration to the U.S. of thoroughly vetted refugees from the atrocities currently being visited on the Syrian people. Not only does such a ban constitute a proverbial wrecking ball when what is required is a surgeon’s scalpel. It also raises the ominous specter of anti-Muslim bigotry, especially given President Trump’s recent comments regarding a religious exception granted to Christian refugees from these same countries.
Despite the darker moments of our history in which racism and bigotry have played formative roles in shaping U.S. immigration policy, very few Americans would deny that we are largely a nation of immigrants. Even fewer would accept the proposition that cannot maintain our noble aspiration to be a country which continues to welcome immigrants without discriminating on the basis of national origin or religion, while at the same time zealously maintaining our national security.
The world has long recognized that one of the many things which makes our nation one of the greatest economic and cultural centers of the world is our commitment to embrace people from all races, ethnicities and religions. Since the first pilgrims landed at Plymouth almost 400 years ago, those who were persecuted at their respective homelands have found refuge in America. Those wonderful traditions must continue to be cherished and preserved. The fruits of this commitment, however, depend on resisting the temptations of extreme partisanship and polarization. This is why we call upon our nation’s political, civic, intellectual, and religious leaders—as well as the media—to rededicate themselves to the principles of civil discourse and consensus-building for the common good. We are confident that, inspired by such a rededication, the American people can overcome some of the unproductive and dangerous divisiveness of the current moment.
As an organization with a mission to promote tolerance through interfaith and intercultural understanding and dialogue, we are stand ready to do all we can to facilitate and/or support any effort aimed at the pursuit of greater social cohesion and justice through reconciliation and action for the welfare of all.