Conference of Presidents Leaders Condemn Heinous Attack on Muslim Worshippers at Mosque in Quebec and Express Deep Concern Over Increasing Rancor Divisiveness and Violence

New York, N.Y . . . Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO, of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expressed deep concern about growing expressions of hostility and divisiveness.  The leaders condemned the brutal attack on Muslim worshippers at a mosque in Quebec which killed six people and wounded several others during evening prayers.  This tragedy should be a stark reminder for leaders in every segment of society around the world to act now to turn back the tide of religious and ethnic hatred that fuels the demonization of others and ignites violence.

“We are horrified by the attack on Sunday night targeting Muslims at prayer in the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec.  This murderous act of wanton violence follows earlier threats and incidents of vandalism at the mosque.  No faith community should feel unsafe in their houses of worship, on the streets of their communities or in their schools.  We stand with the victims and their families and extend condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and our sympathy to all the victims of this heinous attack.

This holds true as well for the need for all groups to speak up against the increasing manifestations of anti-Semitism and extreme anti-Jewish bias cloaked as attacks on Israel.  Displays of swastikas and other hurtful graffiti, vandalism, threats and intimidation, and physical assaults require unreserved condemnation from all.  Hatred against any group or segment of society which is left unchecked causes harm for all.  Public officials must speak out unequivocally, as must religious and cultural leaders and opinion molders.

During World War II we saw the ultimate of evil and inhumanity.  While many suffered and many millions of all faiths were killed, the plan and attempt to eradicate the Jewish people was unique.  The Holocaust was a war against the Jews and all the vast power of the Nazi state and their collaborators was brought to bear in this vicious, genocidal drive.

Mindful of the depraved Nazi effort to annihilate the Jewish people that began with speeches vilifying Jews, progressed to laws stripping Jews of their rights and human dignity and, without the sanctuary of a Jewish homeland or other safe haven, ultimately, took the lives of six million Jews, we are particularly disturbed by the increasing rhetoric of demonization and incitement targeting religious, ethnic and other minorities simply because of how they worship or who they are. 

As UN Secretary General António Guterres eloquently said last Friday in his remarks at the annual UN commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day,Today, we see anti-Semitism, along with racism, xenophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of intolerance, triggered by populism . . . A ‘new normal’ of public discourse is taking hold, in which prejudice is given a free pass and the door is opened to even more extreme hatred.”

In an atmosphere of rising tensions and increasingly hurtful rhetoric stoking social, cultural, political and religious divisions throughout the world, religious and other minorities are frequent targets of bigoted comments and incitement to violence with tragic consequences. 

We know all too well the dangers of allowing prejudice “a free pass.” Silence and inaction are not an option.

It is a core Jewish value and a moral imperative to stand up for the vulnerable, to provide refuge and protection from those who want to do them harm.  It is our responsibility to one another to assure there is no place in society for demonization and delegitimization, bigotry or prejudice of any kind.  At the same time, there must be effective policies and actions to assure the safety and security of all individuals and our nation.  Terrorism is a real threat and must be addressed with commitment and determination and with the resources to do so effectively.”

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern

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