President's Perspective - April 2019

april 2019 president's perspective sandy fowler May 15, 2019

I don’t ordinarily comment on the SIETAR USA webinars. The March Webinar, Dispelling Myths for Inclusion of American Muslims by Lobna “Luby” Mohamed Ismail served as a strong reminder that increased hate in the world has led to less safety and to increased violence. However, 70 people registered for the webinar and 31 attended. I know that things come up in our busy lives and since the recording is available on the members’ part of the website, people do have access to them, but the message was and is an important one.

Often labeled terrorists, Muslims are more often victims. Muslims aren’t the only victims—there are hate crimes against Jews and Blacks and Gays and people who just look different and the list can go on. The statistics are staggering; some can be viewed at

This informative, helpful webinar took place on March 26th just 11 days after the massacre on March 15th in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 50 Muslims—50 human beings. Invited to do a webinar over two months ago, Luby revealed at the beginning of the webinar that she knew she had to change what she had planned to say. She asked: how can we be allies? More inclusive? Live our values such as Out of Many, One—E Pluribus Unum?

Luby reminded us of the misperceptions such as the false claim that Muslims are inherently anti-Christian. She mentioned the many similarities Islam has with Christianity. Luby asked, “What does it mean to look Muslim?” American Muslims are the most ethnically and racially diverse religious group in the United States. Muslims are a vital part of America’s history and its present. 

Luby’s final questions were: What do we do now? What is our plan for outreach and action? You will find Muslims everywhere—ask, empathize, listen—have the necessary and difficult discussions. Interculturalists know how to do that. She added, hold our elected officials accountable for Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, racial bias, anti-immigration, and anti-LGBTQ legislation. We need one another to halt what’s happening: no more people should ever be killed in places of worship or anywhere because of the faith they follow, their ethnic or racial identity. We all belong! 

Sandy Fowler
President, SIETAR USA