(PHILADELPHIA AND PITTSBURGH, PA, 10/12/2023) – The Philadelphia and Pittsburgh chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released a public letter to Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro denouncing his statements in reaction to the recent cycle of violence in the Middle East.
More than 60 representatives of Pennsylvania’s Muslim organizations, mosques and schools have co-signed the letter, which criticizes Governor Shapiro’s disregard for his Palestinian-American constituents who have lost family members or are concerned for their safety due to Israel’s indiscriminate attacks against civilian areas.
An excerpt from the letter is below:
Dear Governor Shapiro,
We are the Muslim community leaders hailing from all corners of Pennsylvania. We are proud Muslims and Pennsylvanians. We are deeply disturbed and disappointed with your statements in reaction to the recent cycle of violence in Palestine and Israel.
You failed to represent, recognize, and respect all Pennsylvanians, despite your rhetoric to the contrary in numerous talks in the last year — some uttered in our houses of worship where we hosted you.
We are a people of justice and balance. We do not condone violence against civilians, whoever may be the perpetrator; our faith dictates that we condemn injustice even when it may be done by our own. We value all human life — whatever faith they hail from. We had hoped you would join us in recognizing the humanity of over 2.5 million people being held hostage, facing death and famine in Gaza. There are those of us who have lost family members to airstrikes targeting civilians in Gaza and they, too, emphasize a Muslim’s most cherished quality is Justice.
Since last weekend, you have not even once publicly recognized the inhumane treatment of civilians, systematic occupation and apartheid, and dehumanization by Israel against civilian Muslim, Christian, Druze Palestinians. Not only did you fail to recognize the structural root causes of the conflict, you chose to intentionally ignore the civilian loss of life in Gaza. With all due respect, Governor Shapiro, you missed the opportunity to speak as the Governor of all Pennsylvanians. Your one-sided statements are not shared by our beautiful, dynamic, long-standing, and proud Community.
CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Ahmet Tekelioglu, PhD said:
“Governor Shapiro deliberately chose to ignore the humanity of Palestinians who are once again being ignored by the international community. Our community expected better from someone who has spent time at our events and in our community centers. There are leaders he personally knows who have lost family members to airstrikes in Gaza. His silence on Palestinian civilians sends a strong message. We applaud and join countless organizations that chose to speak out against this hurtful and unethical stance.”
CAIR-Pittsburgh Executive Director Christine Mohamed said:
“Governor Shapiro’s refusal to acknowledge the ongoing suffering of the Palestinian people, in the face of decades of oppression, is deeply disheartening. If we truly value human rights, it is imperative that we stand in solidarity against violence and that includes the Palestinians who continue to endure immense hardship. Our community joins the chorus of numerous organizations that have chosen to raise their voices against this hurtful and morally untenable stance. It is our hope that Governor Shapiro reconsiders his position and takes a more compassionate and just approach to this pressing issue.”
Yesterday, Washington, D.C., based CAIR reported that thousands of Americans have used CAIR’s action alert to contact their members of Congress, call for an end to the ongoing violence that is taking the lives of Palestinian and Israeli civilians, and call for the renewal of U.S.-led efforts to secure a permanent peace by ending the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.