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Religious Leaders Sign Petition for Tolerance After Anti-Muslim Rally

Phoenix-area faith leaders have coalesced around an online petition speaking out against hate demonstrations, following an anti-Muslim rally last weekend in Phoenix. Credit: Jaime Steele.
Phoenix-area faith leaders have coalesced around an online petition speaking out against hate demonstrations, following an anti-Muslim rally last weekend in Phoenix. Credit: Jaime Steele.
October 15, 2015

PHOENIX – More than 60 faith leaders representing thousands of Arizonans have signed a new online petition circulated by the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, in the wake of an anti-Muslim rally in front of a mosque in Phoenix last weekend.

The petition is titled Arizona Faith Communities Speak Out Together Against Hate.

Azra Hussain, president of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, says she discouraged any counter-protests for safety reasons, but appreciates the support of those who demonstrated in favor of tolerance.

"There are more people who stand together and speak up and stand up against hate because of our shared values, our shared humanity," she says. "People just need to know there's many more who are not like that who don't hate people who are different to them."

There are no official numbers, but images taken from the protest show about 30 to 50 so-called "patriot" protesters on one side of the street with a barrier down the middle, separating them from about 30 counter-protesters.

Hussain says the Islamic Speakers Bureau isn't organizing any specific event to counter last weekend's protest, in part because they don't want to dignify it with a response.

"We've always done a lot of proactive stuff," she says. "So that we set the narrative, not that we're constantly chasing or reacting to somebody else's behaviors but that we show that this is who we are as humans, as people of a community."

A series of long-planned events coming up include the Speakers Bureau's annual Building Bridges awards dinner on Oct. 24, and an interfaith Thanksgiving service.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ