Rising divisiveness and inter-racial tensions has led to significant increase in hate incidents in the United States, in the last couple of years.
In order to increase awareness of the issue and to elicit ideas about curbing its occurrence, the Association for Communal Harmony organized a public forum entitled “Preventing Communal Violence in Our Communities,” at Salem, Oregon’s Temple Beth Shalom July 19, 2017.
The forum had two components: Symposium and Community Planning. Among the presenters were Salma Ahmad,president of the Islamic Society of Greater Portland, Portland; and Navneet Kaur, co-founder of the Salem Sikh Temple.
Navneet Kaur related hate crimes against American Sikhs, sometimes because, on account of their turbans, they had been mistaken to be Muslims. She added, whether, Sikhs or Muslims, “there is no correct target of hatred.” She suggested that the only way to end communal violence had been to first end the “false equivalence between minority and majority communalism.”
Ahmad related that since Sept. 11 (2001), she had been pushing her fellow Muslims in Portland to blend in rather than isolating themselves. Also, she had been trying to improve relations between area Muslims and law-enforcement officials. Besides, through interfaith activities, she had been trying to educate the public regarding what Islam is all about.
In the Planning session, some suggestions were: Understand subtle discrimination and learn to eliminate it; Learn ways to address violence; Educate both children and adults about aspects of violence raised by today’s panel; Start addressing violence with young children; Build relationships; Build on teachable moments; Report all incidents of violence; Establish reporting protocols; Focus on positive things that are happening; Build bridges, among others.
Pritam K. Rohila