Yesterday, CAIR-Chicago staff and interns participated in a rally alongside the Assyrian community of Chicago to condemn violence against Iraqi Christians. The rally was organized in response to the massacre of dozens of Assyrians Christians in Baghdad on October 31st.
One of CAIR-Chicago’s guiding principles is to foster peace and cooperation between diverse faith communities. We will not be silent and allow the acts of violent extremists to represent Muslims and the peaceful teachings of Islam.
Assyrian Christians are part of the rich history of Iraq and, as our signs stated at the rally, an attack on their churches is an attack on our mosques. Everyone deserves to live in tranquility and to practice their religion freely.
As we all know, violence committed by those who call themselves Muslim has left great strains on interfaith cooperation and tarnished public perceptions of Muslims. We experienced this firsthand yesterday during the rally. While the vast majority of people appreciated that Muslims came to show their solidarity and support for Christians, some were angered by our mere presence.
Read CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab’s reflections on the rally at his blog, www.ahmedrehab.com. Read an excerpt below.
“Here I was standing before a stark display of contrasts, extreme animosity on one end and extreme compassion on the other.
“In a single powerful moment, I was reminded yet again at the absurdity of those who generalize about any one group of people. Here were two people of the same religion, color, and ethnic background standing side by side rallying for the same cause — and yet they could not be any more different.”
The following is an email CAIR-Chicago received from leaders of the Assyrian community:
On behalf of the Assyrian American National Coalition, we want to sincerely thank you and the rest of the CAIR-Chicago staff which attended Monday’s protest of violence against Iraq’s imperiled Christians. It spoke volumes to the Assyrians who were present that we had Muslim Americans stand with us, as a reminder that terrorism affects all the people of Iraq, and when one group is targeted, indeed, we are all targeted. This has been an emotionally difficult week for the Assyrian Christians in the US, and we have felt especially vulnerable and helpless as we watch our defenseless brothers and sisters attacked and murdered.
We understand you had overwhelming support from the attendees despite some problem from individuals who felt it necessary to take their anger out on Islam, and on you and your colleagues. Thank you for staying and marching with us despite any discomfort you may have felt. We warmly welcomed your presence, and hope we see you at our future events here in Chicago and nationwide.
AANC Board of Directors
View photos of the rally on Flickr HERE