GTU and Partners Stand Against Islamophobia

Challenging Recent Islamophobic Hate Speech, Interfaith Coalition Stands in Solidarity with Muslim Communities 


Safir Ahmed, Zaytuna College, 415.595.0790,
Erin Burns, Pacific School of Religion, 904.742.9139,
Doug Davidson, Graduate Theological Union, 510.649.2423,

>>Read the Solidarity Statement from the Graduate Theological Union

BERKELEY, CA — On December 17, faith leaders from Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim traditions shared a solidarity statement in support of Muslim communities facing hostile political rhetoric.

Representatives from Zaytuna College, America’s first Muslim undergraduate liberal arts institution; United Religions Initiative, a global grassroots interfaith peace-building network; and the Graduate Theological Union, the nation's largest and most diverse partnership of theological schools and centers from various religious traditions and cultures, held a panel discussion addressing Islamophobia, followed by a prayerful walk and vigil, and a forum on Islamic teachings on peace.

“Historically, religion has provided the fertile ground that nurtured the higher standards of morals and ethics that made civilized life possible,” noted Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder and senior faculty member of Zaytuna College. “Today, as our politics and societies become increasingly uncivil, and as the lines and distances that once separated us disappear, it is incumbent on religion to assume its historical role in guiding the march of civilization. We will either come together as civilized human beings or we will be consumed by our individual barbarisms.”

“A rise in Islamophobia continues to threaten our Muslim sisters and brothers,” remarked the Rev. Victor H. Kazanjian, Jr., Executive Director of the United Religions Initiative (URI). “Our work as members of URI is made even more urgent by the increase in hateful speech from those who have responded to these incidents by sowing division and discord. Together, we must continue to challenge these claims and promote the positive values inherent in Islam and all religions.”

“Many of us work daily and weekly to create interreligious education and engagement that fosters mutual understanding and respect,” said Riess Potterveld, President of the Graduate Theological Union. “Building community that incorporates difference and, in particular, religious difference is work that needs the attention and commitment of leaders at every level of society. It is the work of building a just and peaceful world. The recent public statements that cloak Muslims with suspicion and call for exclusion display a fear and hatred that deserve the strongest condemnation.”

CO-SPONSORS OF SOLIDARITY AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA EVENTS: The American Baptist Seminary of the West, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Dominican School of Philosophy & Theology, Center for Dharma Studies, Center for Islamic Studies, Center for Jewish Studies, the Graduate Theological Union, the Ignite Institute at Pacific School of Religion, the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Pacific School of Religion, San Francisco Theological Seminary, Starr King School for the Ministry, United Religions Initiative, and Zaytuna College


Solidarity Statement from the Graduate Theological Union

The Graduate Theological Union is the largest and most diverse partnership of theological schools and centers from various religious traditions and cultures committed to promoting ecumenical and interreligious education and dialogue. We stand in solidarity with all who are victims of discrimination and violence and deplore the killing of innocents in the name of religion.

We condemn the bigotry and hate-mongering vilifying and marginalizing our Muslim colleagues, leaders, and their communities here in the United States and around the world.

Together with our Muslim partners we will:

  • Remain steadfast in keeping the doors of dialogue and relationship open to create local and global community.
  • Seek new ways to share our resources of theological education, formation and social justice action.
  • Promote a positive vision of our common humanity and the dignity of difference.