Bringing Jews, Muslims together
I have attended quite a number of functions sponsored by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and have been impressed with the people who have worked so hard to develop this chapter. As it so happens, Safdar Khwaja, the president and author of a recent letter to the editor (“With harmonious goal, CAIR speaks up,” Oct. 23), is a member of the Muslim/Jewish Discussion Group. This group was conceived as a way for Muslims and Jews in the Pittsburgh area to get to know each other in the aftermath of 9/11; he and I have been members since its inception.
Safdar is an open-minded and generous person who spends an enormous amount of time and energy promoting the positive integration of Muslims into our local communities. It was just a few months ago that he organized a successful event that exposed several hundred high school students to the notion that Jews and Muslims can get along just fine if we can manage to get past the stereotypes and lack of exposure to each other.
I think that most of us would agree that after many years of overcoming prejudice, Jews have become an established part of the mainstream in the United States. It is now Muslims who are experiencing prejudice. Just like Jews did in the past, Muslims are looking forward to the time when they also will be considered to be part of the mainstream. In this, and in other ways, we are faith communities that have a lot in common. The more that Jews and Muslims can work together and discover both our similarities and our differences, the better off we all will be.