Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

Stemming America’s Growing Racial Divide

September 11, 2015

Today marks 14 years since the sinful tragedy of “9-11” when our country was attacked and we lost over 3,000 innocent Americans to violence. We rallied. We got to know our neighbors better and we engaged in heart-felt,sometimes gut-wrenching conversations in search of answers for what happened to our nation that difficult day. Sadly, ever since September 11, 2001over 30,000 Americans die annually from gun violence and we scarcely say a word to each other or unite to find answers. Nor have we sought to truly understand one another. Since Sept. 11, 2001 nationwide police relations towards inner-city youth has worsened to the point of anarchy in our streets while we witness what seems to be a mutually growing distrust between citizens and public authority.

What are we as leaders to do and say while social media continues to capture wayward cops killing innocent civilians, unjust actions that triggered public voices to call for “retaliation”? And now we have innocent police officers being killed just for wearing their uniforms. What are we to do as leaders and what do we do as everyday Americans as we witness America’s growing racial divide fueling the killing of more Americans — numerically — and causing more harm to our country than the sins of Sept. 11, 2001?

We must not let the voices that call our youth to violent revenge to override our voices of reconciliation. But this takes serious work and dedication on our part to lay our  cards on the table and speak a word of truth that addresses inequities in our American society; the regular injustices that causes despair, distrust, anger and division.  Collectively we must face head-on the growing racial divide in America before the hatred grows and come full-circle resulting in more dead bodies in our streets, classrooms, theaters, churches and police cars. A onetime massive destruction of human life as with September 11, 2001 is more impacting upon our conscious thus having a deeper effect on our minds and souls.

However, the slow but steady killing of fewer Americans each day may be more damaging and even worse if we let voices of open and subtle racism flourish. In 2013 the website quoted the Brady Campaign as saying “Every day in the  U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention.”

Miikal-SaahirMichael “Mikal” Saahir is has been the Imam (Islamic Minister) of the Nur-Allah Islamic Center and Director for the Clara Muhammad Weekend School since 1992.He is a member of the board of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation as well as other interfaith organizations. Twice Imam Saahir has completed the Islamic Hajj (pilgrimage) in Mecca. He has made numerous visits to Rome, Italy supporting interfaith efforts between Muslims and Focolare Catholics. In 2008 Michael traveled to Amman, Jordan with the International Interfaith Initiative, building a Habit for Humanity home called House of Abraham, in collaboration with Jews and Christians. Imam Saahir has has served the community as a member of the Indianapolis fire Department for more than three decades.

We cannot let racism further fuel the sinful fire of gun violence.

We all are disgusted by police misconduct yet we turn a blind eye towards wayward inner-city youth who daily ravage neighborhoods and kill innocent men, women and  children. Additionally these inner-city criminals bring more injustice to urban areas residence and businesses than any other sector of our society; then we sit silent as voices of racial discontent call on these same inner-city criminals to go kill a cop. We can’t have it both ways, sitting quietly on the sidelines while crime ravages urban areas of community growth and race-laden voices asking our youth to “stalk and kill” the same police officers we depend upon when we have an emergency.

We all must openly and vocally oppose police brutality. Public servants are sworn upon the U.S. Constitution to “serve and protect” all citizens. Police officers are professionally trained and we pay their salaries with our tax dollars; therefore, they must be held to higher standards. The over population of prisons and jails with men of color says that our justice system has not given justice fairly to all of society’s citizens. Americans we are obligated to make authority accountable. We must not let seeds of racial hatred continue to root in the hearts and minds of our youth. They are sick and tired of the obvious injustices all around them. Injustices from inner-city criminals, and injustices from police and court systems, both who claim to serve and protect all people.

America’s growing racial divide is real and it is costing us human lives. Yes, ALL LIVES MATTER! We can and must turn the tide of racial tension but we have to work together transparently to prevent more killings of innocent Americans. We have to speak out loud and strongly against America’s growing racial divide. Are you ready and willing to join conversation and actions that unites, educate and equally divides service, protection and justice?

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Comments ( 3 )

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  1. Loree Gross October 13, 2015 Reply

    The Baha’i Community of Indianapolis welcomes all to devotions at 10:30 Sunday mornings as well as presentations and discussion at 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at The Baha’i Center, 3740 W 62nd Street. For more details regarding events please go to our web page

    Can this information be placed in the Council’s online calendar of events?

  2. John Clark September 13, 2015 Reply

    We can all learn from Imam Saahir who speaks with a special standing on the anniversary of 9/11: a Muslim and a firefighter.

  3. CIC September 13, 2015 Reply

    Thanks to Imam Saahir for this thoughtful reflection on how we can grow as a country.

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