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VIDEO Martin Luther King on Egypt Protests 10 February , 2011

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A great collage of the Egyptian protests to the sound of the teachings of Martin Luther King.

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World Faith Winston-Salem Leader Talks Egypt in Washington Post 8 February , 2011

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Mustafa Abdullah, Egyptian-American and President of World Faith Winston-Salem, talks about the similarities between Egyptian Protests and the demonstrations led by Dr Martin Luther King.

In the midst of revolution in Egypt, and with lessons from Martin Luther King Day still echoing in the air, I am reminded that our world requires of us–in times of incredible injustice–to resort to an expansive imagination, a deep sense of courage, and a desire for challenge.

These are qualities that are best exemplified by the youth organizers in Egypt who, in the face of 30 years of oppression, a crumbling economy, and increasing tensions between the Muslim and Christian communities both domestically and internationally, have looked beyond their current state of despair by imagining their country as it should be–a place where they can be the agents of tomorrow and participate in the possibility of democracy.  READ MORE

 

Ingrid Mattson: Selma and Salamah: Egyptian Voices For Peace as the Fruit of Justice 7 February , 2011

On March 7, 1965, six hundred peaceful civil rights protesters were brutally attacked by police in Selma, Alabama. In the following weeks, Americans of all faiths came to Selma to rally in support of the human rights and dignity of African-Americans. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of American Judaism’s great theologians said, “When I marched in Selma, my feet were praying.”

Since the beginning of their demonstrations for their own human dignity and rights, Egyptian protesters have been chanting, “salamah.” The linguistic root of Selma and salamah are the same in Semitic languages: s(sh)-l-m and mean “peace.” Like Rabbi Heschel and Dr. King, the Egyptian protesters moved beyond parochial religious identities to come together as Christians, Muslims and secularists to call for a peace that is the fruit of justice in a place where it has been long denied. They have been praying with their feet and with their hands they link together in human solidarity. READ MORE

 

 

Happy Martin Luther King Day 18 January , 2010

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To everyone, Happy Martin Luther King Day.  Please keep in mind his words as you take advantage of the day off:

 

A Christian’s Response to Anti-Islamic Extremism 2 October , 2008

This is an op-ed I am distributing.  We will see if it gets picked up.

For those of you who missed it, a Dayton, Ohio mosque was attacked by a chemical irritant that a was reportedly sprayed into a window during a Ramadan prayer of 300 people, many of which were women and children.  It has so far received little media attention.  Occurring last Friday, September 26, it came at the end of a week where Dayton saw thousands of copies of the anti-Muslim “documentary” Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West was distributed in major newspapers city-wide.  This demands both some critical thought, and a clear response from the those who passionately abhor communal hatred and violence, no matter who’s the victim or perpetrator.

So a little more back story for those of you who didn’t see Obsession.  I remember when I first saw the film at New York University, with fellow interfaith activists Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi    Yahuda Sarna.  Christians, Muslims, and Jews alike were appalled at the constant abuse of history to lump secular independence movements with religious, Sunni with Shiia, and Political Islam with Terrorists’ Extremism, giving a message that, “They hate you, so you should hate them.”

Us v. Them

This dialectal rhetoric has been used on all parties to demonize “them,” victimize “us,” and create a common enemy by abusing religious language for political gain.  Obsession gives light on the domestic example of this, where presidential and senatorial candidates encourage fear-mongering to bolster support.  Ignorant Fear breeds ethno-religious hatred, which in turn inspires communal violence.

As an American, I am ashamed.  Our American values does in fact have influence from religious traditions, and those traditions were used to inform equality, securing freedoms for minorities, whether religious, political, or ethnic.  Many of those victims of the Dayton Mosque attacks were Iraqi refugees, who came to the US to escape a regime that used chemical gases their own citizens.  One mother asked, “If not here, where can I go where my children will be safe?”

Countering this, we need to challenge ourselves, both personally, and as a nation.  With some estimates counting over 5 million Muslim Americans, it is time we include this diverse group of South Asian, Arabs, and African Americans into the fold of the American identity, as we have with Irish, Polish, Chinese Americans, and more.  Those of us of the Christian faith do not have a monopoly on religious values that promote freedom and equality, but share them with our fellow Muslim Americans, among others.  It is time we acknowledge our shared values (including freedom and democracy), respect our differences (like culture), and celebrate our common humanity.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a faith-hero of mine, is the quintessential voice on the matter.  His relevance to those times and now is because he did not simply write off on Jim Crowe laws as some morally-ambiguous “wrong,” but addressed the issue by expounding how such laws were unAmerican, and that continued inactivity was unChristian.  His letter from Birmingham Jail was written to religious leaders, which inspired even non-Christians, such as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who soon joined the movement.

Taking action in my own life, the post-911 world inspired me to begin filming a documentary while on a 6-nation Middle East tour developing projects for the NGO World Faith.  The premise was conversations between me, the white Christian American, and different people from various communities, mostly Muslim and Arab.  What ensued are conversations that leave me with a general message from the Middle East:
“We don’t hate you, and we love your democracy, we are just completely frustrated by the American foreign policy, don’t trust you to spread democracy (with US support of such non-democratic regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt), and feel humiliated by the western ignorance of our religious and cultural identities.”

The worldwide Gallop poll, representing the thoughts of a billion Muslims, support these findings.

Eboo Patel, my friend and a leader of interfaith activism, defined the issue of the Faith Line: it’s not a divide between those of different faiths, but between anyone that uses faith to divide and those to heal.  As comedian Maz Jabroni says it more simply, “There are haters of all kinds…”

So the question is, are you a hater?  Then let’s see some love.  Start with your neighbors, and maybe we can replace “us and them” with “now and then,” making Islamophobia a brief chapter in American history.

About the Author
Frankie Fredericks is the Executive Director of World Faith, a youth-led interfaith community service non-profit active in five countries.  Frank was featured on Good Morning America with Eboo Patel as a Fellow of the Interfaith Youth Core, and interviewed by Al-Akhbar Magazine in Lebanon, Al-Jadid TV, and Nile FM in Egypt.  Residing in New York City, he works as an Online Marketing Consultant, runs the independent label Conar Records, and is an active member of the Grammy Association.

blog:  worldfaith.wordpress.com            www.worldfaith.org