Religious Groups Call On Justice Department to Protect Muslims

In the wake of the arson at a planned Tennesse mosque site and the planned Quran burning at a Florida church on September 11, a coalition religious groups will meet this afternoon with Attorney General Eric Holder, as part of an effort to urge the Obama administration to do more to protect the religious freedom and safety of Muslims in the United States.

In a meeting with Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Tom Perez on August 30, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, te Interfaith Alliance, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Muslim Advocates asked the administration to publicly condemn hate crimes, harassment, and other forms of discrimination against Muslims.

In addition, they urged a “coordinated federal response” to the backlash against Muslims, prosecutions under federal hate crimes legislation, and a Justice Department hotline for victims to file hate crimes complaints.

The organizers view the willingness of the Attorney General to meet with them as a positive sign of the seriousness with which the administration views the rising anti-Muslim bigotry and hate crimes. The original meeting participants will be joined by a broader range of faith groups, and are urging the Attorney General to make a public statement on these issues.

Although not planned to coincide, the meeting takes place on the same day as the Emergency Faith Leaders Summit, at which an interfaith group of leaders agreed upon a statement, “Beyond Park51: Religious Leaders Denounce Anti-Muslim Bigotry and Call for Respect for America’s Tradition of Religious Liberty.” I’ll have more on that shortly.