National Catholic Reporter
September 28, 2001
“As Palestinians, we can very well understand the pain of our American friends. We know what it means when political leaders are targeted and are not safe in their own offices. We understand what it means when planes attack security headquarters. We know how it feels when the backbone of the economy is assaulted.”
— Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Evangelical Lutheran church in Bethlehem
“I find myself unable to comprehend or even to begin to understand the horrors of this divided and broken world. There are not available answers for our questions. Instead I am silenced.”
— The Right Rev. Ria Abu al-Assal, leader of the Episcopal church in Jerusalem and the Middle East
“Muslims are going to be a target because of the Middle East situation — and also what’s going on in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
–Farkhunda Ali, of the American Muslim Council
“We believe that the one God calls us to be peoples of peace.
“Nothing in our holy scriptures, nothing in our understanding of God’s revelation, nothing that is Christian or Islamic justifies terrorist acts and disruption of millions of lives, which we have witnessed this week.
“We join in supporting our government in the pursuit of those who were responsible for Tuesday’s terrorist acts, always mindful of the moral imperative to act with restraint and respect for civilian lives.”
“We abhor all terrorist acts and hate crimes and implore all American citizens to refrain from sinking to the mentality and immorality of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s crimes.”
–Excerpts from joint statement from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and American Muslim Council, Islamic Circle of North America, Muslim American Society, the Islamic Society of Orange County, Calif., and the Islamic Society of North America
“These are acts committed by criminals and nothing any decent human being could reconcile with any religion.”
“We have to look for the individuals responsible for these crimes and attacks against our country and not blame a whole religion or people.”
–Salam Al-Marayati, national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council
“This disgusts me. It’s against Islam, and it’s forbidden to commit suicide.”
–Sheikh Jamil Jaber Abu Ghosh, a Muslim cleric from the Jerusalem Arab suburb of Abu Ghosh
“We need people to remember that American Muslims are also the victims of what is happening today — there were American Muslims in the World Trade Center, American Muslims in the Pentagon. American Muslims are as much a part of America as anyone else.”
–Aly Abuzaakouk, executive director of the American Muslim Council
We condemn “what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians.”
“We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.”
–American Muslim Political Coordination Council
“The Quran says, ‘If you take one life, you have taken the life of the whole people, and if you save one life, you have saved the life of the whole people.’
“The attacks are against the Islamic religion. They have nothing to do with it. We [Muslims] are very peaceful people here in the United States. We may differ in our own ways, there may be some who have different ideas, but none can justify these attacks, even those who might not like U.S. foreign policy.”
–M. Waheed Rana, founder and imam of the Islamic Center of Greater St. Louis
“We condemn the horrifying acts of terrorism committed Sept. 11 in the United States. We express our great sorrow at the number of victims, and we offer our condolences to their families.
“Such acts of violence are not the way to bring peace to the world. As religious leaders we wish to emphasize that the true basis for peace is justice and mutual respect.”
–Islamic-Catholic Liaison Committee
“I don’t think anyone with human feelings could condone such an attack. It’s a horrifying tragedy involving thousands of innocent people who were just going about their daily lives. And it is traumatizing to think that a country as powerful as the U.S. is so vulnerable.
“Still, even if what they do is evil, we must think of the reasons behind it. We are against terrorism. We are against violence. But we have to think why this is happening. If someone feels pushed up to the wall, then your evil side may appear.
“I call on people not to throw accusations. So many people are going to be harassed, people that are American citizens, like my parents, who live in Livonia, Mich. … I hate to see them mistreated in any way.
“We have to pray for peace, but what kind of peace? If we pray only for the peace of our interests, our stability, our security, then we are asking God to be accomplices with us in a narrow vision of peace, to a peace achieved with military power and violence.
“A genuine quest for peace invites us to enlarge our vision of peace to truth and justice. Peace means to accept the rights of the other, the same rights we claim for ourselves. Peace is a political stance. Otherwise, we lie to ourselves and to God.”
–Fr. Majdi al-Siryani, a legal adviser to the Latin-rite Patriarchate of Jerusalem who lives in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Sahour
Voices seldom heard in our pages
National Catholic Reporter