Holder To Meet With Religious Leaders Today On Anti-Muslim Bigotry

Religious leaders from several faiths are meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder today to discuss the recent spate of anti-Muslim sentiment and violence.

At a press conference this afternoon following an interfaith meeting, Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, said he and other religious leaders will meet with Holder, at Holder’s request, later today.

The Justice Department confirms and says they will release a “readout” of the meeting after it occurs.At the press conference, Muslim, Jewish, Evangelical, Christian and Catholic leaders released a statement condemning recent anti-Muslim actions and rhetoric.

Responding to a question from TPMmuckraker, Saperstein said there “needs to be a visible response by the government … There is a need for more vigorous action by the government.”

He said Holder requested the meeting in order to find “the most effective way for us to parallel our statements” over the next week leading up to Sept. 11.

It will be the second such meeting between the DOJ and religious leaders. Some have criticized the DOJ for not being vocal enough about their investigations into the recent spurt of anti-Muslim hate speech and violence.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said he believed the administration has handled things appropriately. But he condemned politicians for making it a “wedge issue.”

“We need to speak out against it,” he said.

The meeting, organized by the Islamic Society of North America, was attended by religious leaders from several organizations, including Rev. Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, Former Catholic Archbishop of D.C. Theodore McCarrick and National Council of Churches General Secretary Michael Kinnamon.

In their statement, the leaders said they were duty-bound to speak out against the recent intolerance.

“We have a moral obligation to stand together and denounce derision [and] outright bigotry,” it reads, in part. “Only by taking a stand can we fulfill the highest obligations of our respective faiths.”

They also said religious bigotry is anti-American, and hurts both American standing abroad and the country itself.

Additional reporting by Ryan J. Reilly

Late update: Saperstein talks to TPMmuckraker about what he’d like to see come out of today’s meeting with Holder.