Governor Rendell Speaks at CAIR-PA Dinner

500 people attend sold-out event in Philadelphia

Apr 08, 2007, 01:00 ET from Council on American-Islamic Relations

    PHILADELPHIA, April 8 /USNewswire-PRNewswire/ -- The Pennsylvania
 chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-PA) today
 thanked that state's governor for taking part in its first annual banquet
 Saturday night in Philadelphia.
     Gov. Edward G. Rendell joined Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) in addressing a
 sold- out crowd of some 500 people who attended the event.
     CAIR-PA thanked Rep. Sestak for refusing to back out of speaking at the
 dinner after facing rhetorical attacks from Islamophobic Internet bloggers
 who objected to his decision to address hundreds of local Muslims.
     Sestak told dinner attendees: "CAIR does such important and necessary
 work in a difficult environment to change such perceptions and wrongs --
 from racial profiling and civil rights to promoting justice and mutual
 understanding -- at a time when it is challenging to be an
     "We need to claim our values, not betray them, by ensuring there is not
 a psychology that pulls out of the rich fabric of our American community
 those who look like 'one of them.' We are better than that," said Sestak.
     Other speakers at the dinner included Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of
 the Shalom Center.
     During the banquet, CAIR's National Board Chairman Parvez Ahmed praised
 Sestak for having the moral fiber to speak to his Muslim constituents
 despite being "demonized and vilified by the right-wing media and
 pro-Israel extremists."
     SEE: Pro-Israel Groups Target American Muslims
     Ahmed also said: "Islam does not only mean peace, Islam emphasizes
 peaceful coexistence as a supreme goal. Thus, Islamic ethos unequivocally
 condemns terrorism of any sort...Each gruesome act that shocked Americans,
 from the murder of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, to the bombing of a Jewish
 Seder party in Israel, to the beheading of Nick Berg in Iraq, to the
 massacre in Beslan to the subway bombings in London, has equally shocked
 Muslims and brought with it swift and unequivocal condemnations. American
 Muslim organizations also rallied behind a fatwa (Islamic juristic opinion)
 against terrorism...
     "It is time apologists for Israeli apartheid issue similar condemnation
 statements against the usurping of Palestinian land, the demolition of
 their homes, and the indiscriminate killing of civilians. Until this
 happens they stand on no moral ground to lecture us...The world needs to
 heal. I appeal to this gathering of Muslims, Christians, Jews, and people
 of all faiths to rise and be counted as among those who are blessed -- for
 they are the peacemakers."
     "We thank Governor Rendell and Representative Sestak for having the
 courage to stand up to bigotry and extremism and to treat their Muslim
 constituents as equal citizens," said CAIR-PA Chairman Iftekhar Hussain.
     Some 250 people also turned out last night for a similar CAIR banquet
 in Connecticut. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad was one of the keynote
 speakers at that event.
     CONTACT: CAIR Legislative Director Corey Saylor, (571) 278-4658,
     E-Mail:; CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim
     Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail:

SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations