Beliefnet News

NEW YORK (RNS) In an effort to continue interfaith cooperation and prevent backlash against Muslims, Jews and Muslims are coming together here to memorialize the Jewish victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.
Imam Mohammed Shamsi Ali and Rabbi Marc Schneier, who recently appeared together in Manhattan during November’s national Jewish-Muslim “Weekend of Twinning,” will each speak this Friday (Dec. 5) at New York City’s Islamic Cultural Center.
On Saturday morning, the Consul General of India in New York, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal, will join them at the New York Synagogue for a second tribute.
“We don’t allow the terrorists to divide us and we don’t allow the terrorists to defeat us,” Ali said. “Terrorism doesn’t know God, terrorism doesn’t have any religion. All religious people are united against these terrorist attacks because all religions are enemies of terrorism.”
Mumbai’s Chabad House, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community center directed by Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, was one of the targets in the attacks in late November. The Holtzbergs were among more than 170 people killed in the Indian metropolis over the three-day period.
Ali and Schneier say they hope the joint tributes will help prevent grieving Jews, Hindus and others targeted in the Mumbai attacks from turning their anger towards Muslims, a major concern for Muslim groups in India and the United States.
On Tuesday (Dec. 2), the Muslim Public Affairs Council sent a letter to the Bush administration and the Obama transition team, calling on them to promote a message of tolerance and to encourage India to take precautions against a possible backlash against its Muslim minority, about 13 percent of the country’s population.
Schneier, who helped organize the recent Weekend of Twinning events involving more than 100 mosques and synagogues, said there have been several interfaith statements condemning the attacks, but he wasn’t yet aware of any other Jewish-Muslim memorial events.
As a Muslim cleric, Ali said he felt compelled to explain that terrorists, despite calling themselves Muslims, do not represent his faith.
“It’s very painful and sad to us whenever a Muslim commits terrorism and says it’s in the name of religion,” he said. “Terror and terrorism cannot be justified at all.”
By Nicole Neroulias
Religion News Service
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.