JACL Executive Director David Inoue speaks at a CAIR press conference in Washington, D.C. (NBC News)
WASHINGTON — JACL Executive Director David Inoue was among the speakers at a press conference held Friday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in response to the mass murder of Muslims at two mosques in New Zealand. He gave the following statement:
“It is with heavy heart that I come here today to stand with our friends in the Muslim community. What happened in New Zealand is unfortunately becoming too common an occurrence. It is unthinkable that nearly 100 people have been killed or injured in coordinated attacks on two different mosques, sacred places of worship.
“We can make no mistake, the evil behind these attacks is too often rooted in white supremacy, exposed by the targeting of places of worship, whether most recently a Muslim mosque in New Zealand, or Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh, or an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, or a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“For these killers, nothing is held sacred, and these targets are selected because of the religion they practice. This is not new; hatred and discrimination have a long history. But is shows we are not learning from our history.
“The Japanese American experience is one where we were incarcerated because of who we are. But that didn’t happen just with the incarceration. It began with the subtle, and not so subtle, discrimination against Japanese Americans, against Chinese Americans, and Asian Americans. That’s what led to incarceration. We don’t have incarceration now; instead we have attempts at genocide, mass killings targeting specific minority groups, and that is clearly wrong.
“With all the talk of immigrants invading our country, threatening our way of life, and the need to build a wall. It is the opposite. We now have a segment of our country that is eroding the ideals of what it means to be American from the inside. We are increasingly not a nation that stands for religious freedom and diversity as memorialized in our First Amendment. And it now appears we are exporting that hatred and evil to other countries.
“Today is Friday. It is the day of community worship in the Muslim community, and in fact, that time of prayer will be quickly approaching at the noon hour. We hope that Muslims around the world today can find strength in their community as they worship together and know that they are surrounded by a community of other faiths and beliefs that stands with them.
“Together, we will all continue to work together to eradicate Islamophobia and other forms of hatred that weaken us as a nation, and as a worldwide community.”
Following are statements from Asian Pacific American members of Congress.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Earlier today, I spoke with @NZAmbassadorUS Rosemary Banks to offer my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the people of New Zealand. We all must join together to condemn this senseless act of terrorism and stand up to bigotry and hatred in all its forms.”
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.): “My heart is heavy with grief for New Zealand & Muslims worldwide affected by the tragic murders in Christchurch. The massacre of those in a house of worship, in prayer, is evil & cowardly. We stand with our friends around the world to condemn hate & speak out against intolerance.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “Extending my heartfelt condolences to the Muslim community in New Zealand and all New Zealanders. Hate is never the answer and we must do more to eradicate hate wherever it occurs.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “I am heartbroken by the terrorist attack in New Zealand. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. We must stop encouraging xenophobia, bigotry, and division and insist on our common humanity. All of us, no matter where we were born or how we worship, are stronger together …
“It is incredibly dangerous that on the same day as the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand, President Trump repeated his claim that immigrants at the southern border ‘put countless Americans in very grave danger.’ This bigoted lie is the only grave danger here.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “Heartbroken for the Muslim community in New Zealand and across the globe. Our Muslim brothers and sisters deserve to practice their faith free from intimidation and hate. We must work harder to confront the white nationalist forces terrorizing innocent people around the world.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “The tragedy in New Zealand is heartbreaking. We mourn the deaths of the 49 people killed and pray for the dozens of others who were wounded. We must fully condemn the hate, bigotry, and xenophobia that perpetrated this violence.”
Rep. Ami Bera (D-Sacramento): “I’m heartbroken to learn about the horrific killings in New Zealand. We must all stand up to hatred, bigotry, and violence. My thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this senseless tragedy.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Santa Clara): “New Zealand is in my thoughts this morning. In a place meant for sanctuary and safety, this form of mindless hatred and pointless violence should never occur.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “The massacre in Christchurch is the bitter fruit of hatred rooted in racism and religious bigotry. We must stand as one and condemn these attacks on our Muslim brothers and sisters. For those suffering today, in New Zealand and around the world, we are with you.”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “To Muslim families affected by the horrendous Christchurch massacre, our hearts go out to you. We stand with you and against hate, always.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.): “The terror attack in Christchurch is a tragedy for the Muslim community, New Zealand, and all the world. We must all stand shoulder to shoulder against the forces of hate across the world and in our own country.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.): “We must with united voice condemn the terrorist attacks that took the lives of 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand. We stand with the people of New Zealand and with Muslim communities there and abroad who deserve to live and worship with security.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “Shocked and horrified over the mosque shootings in #Christchurch. Praying for all who have been impacted. We stand with the #Muslim community and the people of #NewZealand at this difficult time.”
Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.): “Our thoughts go out to New Zealand as well as the entire Muslim community. We must all stand united in rejecting hate and terror in any form.”