MuslimARC Sends Condolences to AME and Charleston
MuslimARC Sends Condolences to AME and Charleston; Calls on Communities to Amplify the Stories of the Victims and to Challenge Lesser Forms of Racial Hatred
June 18, 2015
On June 17, a gunman opened fire during a Bible study class at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (1) News of the horrific attack spread as American Muslims began the first night of prayers during the Holy Month of Ramadan. The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) offers sincere condolences and prayers for the nine victims, their families, and the AME community. It is most fitting that as we fast, our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their loved ones. The Qur’an affirms the sanctity of life: the loss of one innocent life “is just as killing all of humankind.” [5:32]
We recognize the historical significance of the AME Church in African American spiritual life. Founded in 1816, the AME Church is a symbol of resistance against the dehumanizing effects of white supremacy during slavery and Jim Crow. One of the founders, Denmark Vesey, organized an attempted slave revolt in 1822. During the Civil Rights Movement, the community hosted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2)
We honor the life and service of Reverend and State Senator Clementa Pinckney, who is survived by his wife and two children. His life reflected his family’s legacy in the struggle against bigotry and systemic racism. Along with other South Carolina pastors, he held prayer vigils in response to the murder of Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man, by a white North Charleston police officer. (3) Pinckney also played a significant role in passing the body camera bill. (4)
We raise the names of the other victims – Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson, Tywanza Sanders, Ethel Lee Lance, Cynthia Hurd, and Daniel L. Simmons – and send our condolences to their loved ones. (5) We encourage all to sign the Color of Change card to support the survivors and family members of those killed. (6)
This incident is an unspeakable act of anti-black terrorism, (7) where people of faith were targeted in a house of worship. It was clearly an act of racial hatred. Dylan Roof, the alleged gunman, had a Facebook profile displaying two South African apartheid-era flags. Additionally, one of the survivors recounted that the shooter said he came to “kill black people.” (8) We believe it is important to raise awareness about the threat of right-wing violent extremism and the dangers of white supremacist groups. (9)
In addition, we emphasize that hate does not kill without first manifesting itself as lesser forms of racism and discrimination. (10) It is imperative that we recognize and condemn the racist jokes, speech, and policies that lend themselves to a climate in which dehumanization of others occurs. We call on Muslims to commit to challenging anti-blackness within their own communities and stand clearly and vocally for justice in the face of white supremacy and racism in the United States.
We hope that people of all faiths and backgrounds come together to support the AME community and to fight hate and ignorance with love and education. We ask that Muslims remember the AME community in their Friday prayers this week.
The Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC) is a human rights education organization committed to creatively addressing and effectively challenging racism within Muslim communities.
(10) See, for example, the 8 stages of genocide: http://www.genocidewatch.org/genocide/8stagesofgenocide.html