In one of his most famous statements, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

On the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, it is time to reflect on Dr. King’s words and examine where we stand as a nation on the issues of justice and mutual understanding.

The opening service Wednesday included Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Sikh, and other Christian faith leaders celebrating King’s legacy.

Other speakers are the Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the National Cathedral; Catholic Archbishop Donald Wuerl (wurl) of Washington; Rabbi Achonfeld of the Rabbinical Assembly; Imam Mohamed Magid of the Islamic Society of North America and others.

Dr. King’s struggle for justice must be carried on by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds, because that is what he taught and demonstrated through his life’s work.

Fifty years after the “I have a dream” speech, stubborn remnants of racism and bigotry linger in the forms of voter suppression campaigns, racial and religious profiling and the targeting of undocumented immigrants.

Dr. King’s dream is deferred every time an American is discriminated against, profiled or mistreated because of the color of their skin, their faith, their gender, or their legal status.

Bigotry is also rearing its ugly head in a relatively new form, that of Islamophobia, the hatred of Islam and Muslims.

Islamophobia — whether expressed in the form of unconstitutional anti-Islam bills introduced in state legislatures nationwide or spewed by anti-Muslim hate bloggers — is just the latest manifestation of the same intolerance faced by Dr. King and other civil rights leaders of his time.

Like other forms of intolerance, Islamophobia is a threat to our nation’s values and to the social tapestry that continues to draw people to our shores from every nation on earth.

As American Muslims join coalitions in defense of their rights and the rights of Americans of all backgrounds, we must learn from the words and experiences of Dr. King.

 

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