President Obama’s Condemnation of Islamophobia is Admirable – and Overdue

Yesterday President Obama addressed thousands of American-Muslims at the Islamic Society of Baltimore during his first visit to a mosque in the United to condemn anti-Muslim rhetoric.

“We applaud President Obama for his important demonstration of solidarity with the Muslim community – yet we also believe his speech is long overdue,” said Tanenbaum | Center for Interreligious Understanding CEO Joyce Dubensky. “In this climate of increasing religious bias and discrimination, he has taken an important step forward in demonstrating how respect can be put into practice, as modeled by our First Amendment.”

Tanenbaum said that as citizens, we should encourage our political leaders to unify divisions within Americans, including religious differences. Regarding the upcoming political election, Dubensky stated, “Regardless of political affiliation, it’s the responsibility of our next president to take an early stance against the stereotypes, hate and alienation that result when people think that terrorism and Islam are synonymous.”

Tanenbaum offers a range of educational curricula and other materials including its Combating Extremism resources, which help teachers and individuals address extremism constructively in classrooms and communities.

As Boko Haram rises, Nigerian Peacemakers Respond

Following the tranquility of evening prayers, the sounds of screaming children pierced Nigeria’s Dalori village as children were burnt alive. Boko Haram had arrived and three female suicide bombers detonated their vests, killing villagers who tried to stop their attack.

At Tanenbaum, we have witnessed the rise of Boko Haram through the eyes of our Nigerian Peacemakers in Action, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye. (Once mortal enemies, they now work together to teach warring religious youth and others to peacefully resolve conflicts.) Although ISIS dominates international headlines, Boko Haram is the world’s deadliest terrorist group – according to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index Report. In 2014, ISIS slaughtered 6,073 people, while Boko Haram was responsible for 6,644 terrorist deaths.[i]

“Boko Haram is devastating Nigeria,” noted Tanenbaum CEO Joyce Dubensky. “As thousands of families are torn apart by kidnappings, murder and fractured communities, children are being burned alive. But the victims of this local massacre are not the only ones affected. The global Muslim community, Christians and humanity at large is also suffering from these attacks.”

Peacemakers Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye of the Interfaith Mediation Centre in Nigeria, agree. Imam Ashafa notes how the media’s focus is on the atrocities committed by terrorist groups that claim the mantle of Islam. He worries that this overlooks the majority of Muslims who live peacefully and take action against terrorism. “The Muslim community is also a victim. We would never make attention-worthy headlines because the media wants to broadcast how much blood has been shed and how many have died, not how many were saved and how many fight against ISIS and Boko Haram.”[ii]

“Self-proclaimed Muslim terrorists capture the headlines, and many people incorrectly presume that terrorism and Islam are synonymous. And that leads to stereotypes, hate and alienation. This is a cycle we have to stop,” says Dubensky. “One way we can do this is through education. By sharing practical information, for example among teachers and community members, we can reduce hatred and make sure our communities become informed by facts instead of fear.”

Tanenbaum offers a range of educational curricula and other materials including its Combating Extremism resources, which help teachers and individuals address extremism constructively in classrooms and communities.

 


 

[i] The Institute for Economics and Peace. 2015 Global Terrorism Index Report. Publication. Accessed February 1, 2016. http://static.visionofhumanity.org/sites/default/files/2015 Global Terrorism Index Report.pdf.

[ii]Nigeria’s Imam and the Pastor Talk Interfaith Conflict Issues.” University of Massachusetts Boston. December 9, 2015. Accessed February 01, 2016.

Combat Extremism with January Resources from Tanenbaum

Dear Friends,

I wouldn’t be surprised if your in-boxes – like mine – are still flooded with talk of ISIS, terror, and refugees facing a worsening humanitarian crisis. With this, we see rising fear and exploding acts of hatred and Islamophobia. This is a time for action. We can derail the anti-Muslim violence and hate that’s showing up in schools, at home and in our neighborhoods.

This January, Tanenbaum shares another practical resource for use in daily life, in a classroom or with your congregation.

Read, download, and share! Challenge students and children to ask questions, research the answers, and take action by starting a discussion within your community or family about Islamophobia. Take this to your house of worship and learn more about your neighbors.

Together, let’s work to prevent violent extremism. Peace begins with us.

With great hope for 2016,

Joyce S. Dubensky,
CEO

P.S. Your signature makes a difference! Sign and share our Peacemaker’s Statement Against Extremism.

DONATE here to support our work against extremism and our 2016 intervention in Syria.

Combat Extremism – Use December Resources from Tanenbaum

In the wake of continued violent extremism and escalating intolerance fueled by fear and misinformation, Tanenbaum remembers what unites us in striving for a just society. Shared visions of generosity, gratitude, friendship, and forgiveness tie us together in our search for peace and justice.

Learning more about one another allows us to stand together in this search. This month, Tanenbaum shares another practical resource for use in daily life or in a classroom.

  • Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice: Read calls and prayers for peace and justice from many of the world’s great religions and philosophical traditions. They echo common threads that connect us, regardless of our different beliefs or lack of belief.
  • QUESTIONS for Students and Educators: A question sheet that may be used by educators and creative parents alike alongside Calls and Prayers for Peace and Justice, which explores common themes, shared ethics and similar visions of peace that emerge across different faith and philosophical traditions.
Read, download, and share! Challenge students and children to ask questions, research the answers, and take action by starting a discussion within your community or family about shared beliefs for peace. Take this to your house of worship and learn more about your neighbors.
Together, let’s work to prevent violent extremism. Peace begins with us.

P.S. Your signature makes a difference! Sign and share our Peacemaker’s Statement Against Extremism.

 

Click here to support our work against extremism and our 2016 intervention in Syria.

Combat Extremism – November Resources from Tanenbaum

Dear Friends,

Last week, ISIS sought to shatter our sense of security by striking at the heart of Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. As we mourn the loss of so many innocent lives, we remain resolved to defy ISIS and terrorism by firmly upholding our shared values – that we must treat others as we wish to be treated.

And when we abide by that Golden Rule, we build an inclusive, pluralistic society that does not marginalize those who are different.

One key strategy for doing this is by learning more about one another and seeking out ways to stand together. Today, we’re proud to continue our Combating Extremism campaign by sharing more practical resources you can use in your daily life or in a classroom.

Today, our focus is on the work of Tanenbaum’s Syrian Peacemaker in Action, Hind Kabawat:

  • QUESTIONS for Students and Educators: A question sheet that may be used by educators and creative parents alike alongside Hind Kabawat’s Testimony about strategies to pursuing peace in Syria! Using the primary documentation provided by Hind’s testimony, these materials may be useful for educators teaching about current events, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, The Cradle of Civilization and geography.
Read, download, and share! With these resources, you can gain a unique perspective into the Syrian conflict and examine Peacemaker in Action Hind Kabawat’s solutions. Challenge students and children to ask questions, research the answers, and take action by starting a discussion within your community or family. To learn more about Hind’s next project (to work with women who will rebuild Syria) click here.
Together, let’s work to prevent violent extremism. Peace begins with us.
With hope for a better future,
Joyce S. Dubensky,
CEO

P.S. Your signature makes a difference! Sign and share our Peacemaker’s Statement Against Extremism.

Click here to support our work with Hind, her fellow Peacemakers and our 2016 intervention in Syria.

Combat Extremism – October Resources from Tanenbaum

Dear Friends,

At Tanenbaum, we are committed to combating extremism because of the horror it inflicts on people. And because it fuels suspicion and fear of others, stereotypes, and hate.

There are many paths to defeat extremism, including actions you can take today. This month, Tanenbaum shares more excellent and practical resources you can use in your daily life:

  • QUESTIONS for Students and Educators: A question sheet that may be used alongside Opposition to Places of Worship and Religious Practices in the U.S. by educators and creative parents alike!
Read, download, and share! Use them to begin a discussion at the dinner table during a conversation without cell phones, in your house of worship, or at your local community center. Challenge your children and students to read them and ask questions – and then research answers. Learn the facts! Speak up! And please share your ideas with us for ways to use these resources to counter hate and terror.
With great hope for peace,
Joyce S. Dubensky,
CEO

P.S. Remember to sign the Peacemaker’s Change.org petition against extremism – commit to taking action!

Combat Extremism – New Resources from Tanenbaum!

Dear Friends,

Today is a day for remembrance, condemnation and action.
  • We remember the nearly 3,000 innocent women, men and children from more than 370 countries and a vast array of religions and beliefs, who were lost on September 11, 2001.
  • We condemn the expansion of terrorism and the horror it inflicts on its victims. We see the face of those victims in the Syrian refugees willing to risk a child’s death rather than remain in a land beset by a brutal government and the savagery of extremists. And in so many others fleeing violent extremism in Iraq, Myanmar, Libya and too many other countries.
  • We take action. Through the work of our Peacemakers in Action we counter terrorists worldwide. And through Tanenbaum’s Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees project we raise emergency funds for humanitarian disaster relief agencies working with Syrian refugees while planting the seeds for future stability in the region.

Violent religious extremism can feel insurmountable. But there are simple actions you can take to thwart the local growth of radicalism and prevent individuals (including youth) from feeling marginalized. We ask you to join us – in memory of 9/11 and because of today’s refugees – to help defy extremism:

Sign the Peacemaker’s Change.org petition against extremism.
Tanenbaum’s religiously motivated Peacemakers in Action work to stop violence and brutal extremism in the world’s worst conflicts. And now, they have joined forces to create a Campaign Against Extremism on Change.org – making a beautiful pledge toward building a safer future. Sign the petition today – and commit to taking action!
Visit Tanenbaum each month for new resources for combating extremism.
Starting today, we’re offering free, practical resources that can be used at home or at work, in schools, places of worship and in your community. Read, download and share our September 11 Fact Sheet and World Religions Fact Sheet today. Use them to begin a discussion at your house of worship, community center or over a workplace lunch and learn. Challenge your children and students to read them and ask questions – and then research answers. Learn the facts! Speak up! And please share your ideas for ways to use these resources to counter hate and terror.

We’ll be sharing new resources every month this year. So visit us on the 15th of each month and check out your new resources!

Each of us has a unique and powerful role in stopping extremism but we must take action!

With great hope for peace,
Joyce S. Dubensky,
CEO

Religion at the 2012 Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity

An interesting article in Business Insurance argues that knowledge of the law and good training of supervisors and managers can defuse many situations that lead to religious discrimination claims. The article advises employers to review company policies, and make sure that managers understand their obligation to accommodate religious needs.

The author of this article, Judy Greenwald, accurately speaks to the ways in which companies can and should avoid litigation when it comes to religion, urging employers to be vigilant and act promptly when signs of intolerance arise.

It’s often very easy to identify the overt manifestations of intolerance in the workplace (like this case, for example, in which complaints allege that supervisors and coworkers threw blood and meat at Muslim employees). But what about when intolerance becomes more subtle? At Tanenbaum, we support managers’ vigilance with a resource called the “10 Bias Danger Signs.” Identified through Tanenbaum’s benchmarking survey of employees, these “10 Bias Danger Signs” include the ways in which religion most frequently emerges in the workplace, like attire, employee networks, and socializing.

Avoiding litigation and reacting to problems appropriately is important, and the “10 Bias Danger Signs” can serve as an early warning tool. But it can also be used to identify places where religious diversity can be more thoroughly addressed within a company’s policies, practices, and D&I programming. When religious diversity in the workplace is proactively addressed and included within an overall D&I strategy, businesses may see an increase in productivity, improved morale, and better client/customer relations.

At the 2012 Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, Mark Fowler will be presenting a PDI session on this topic on March 20th.  In his session “Digging Deeper: Religious Diversity and the 10 Bias Danger Signs,” participants will explore the ways in which ignorance or bias show up and practice importance communication and listening skills. His session will address the avoidance and diffusion of conflict within the workplace, but will also explore the ways in which religious diversity can be leveraged to support overall business goals.

Religion is a hot-topic this year at the Multicultural Forum. Take a look at Laurie Trousil’s blog post and read about the different ways faith-based employee networks can be approached within an organization. And don’t miss out on “Faith-Based ERGs: Motivation, Management and Metrics,” where Laurie Trousil will be featured on a panel to discuss spirituality in the workplace, and how Best Buy, Ameriprise Financial, and Medtronic have embraced religion to create and sanction faith-based ERGs.

Annie Levers
Program Associate, Workplace