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
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)
"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: firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim
Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: email@example.com
SOURCE Council on American-Islamic Relations