WASHINGTON – Following this morning’s shooting at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris carried out allegedly by Muslim men in response to the paper’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed, Helio Fred Garcia, chair of the board of Interfaith Alliance, released this statement:
“My thoughts and prayers, and the prayers of every member of the Interfaith Alliance, are with the victims of this horrific attack, their friends and family, and the people of France. Violence negates the basic premise of every religion: that every human being is endowed with a unique worth and dignity. Such acts, when carried out in the name of religion, do an even greater injustice by transforming what is, for many, a force for meaning, justice and community, into a tool of hatred and division.
“It is particularly troubling that today’s attack targeted a media outlet. Those of us who are passionate about defending the First Amendment in the United States know that the freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of religion are values that grow in tandem. We can no more defend religious communities by attacking freedom of speech than we can defend freedom of speech by compromising religious liberty. French and American law enforcement, the media, and all of us must remember this fact as we seek a way forward from today’s tragedy. To respond to this event by demonizing and targeting the Muslim faith and community is both to misunderstand the nature of freedom and to accept the extremist’s logic of hatred and division. It is only through policies and discourses of civility and mutual understanding can we pursue, together, a world where tragedies like today’s attack are far less common.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.