Building and crossing bridges together

Shams M. Ghoneim

Iowa City

Coordinator, Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa
Shams M. Ghoneim Iowa City Coordinator, Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa

Since the start of this U.S. presidential campaign, Americans have been mercilessly bombarded with divisive and outrageous rhetoric. A reality TV-like campaign for the White House has included promises of border walls and mass deportations, and of carpet bombings, torture, and waterboarding to fight terrorism. It has included ridiculing individuals with developmental disability, painting minority populations with broad brush of misconception, demonization and dehumanization. No one has escaped such targeted attacks, not even women or gold star families. There has been a rise in hate crimes against minorities especially Muslims and their houses of worship worse even than after the 9/11 attacks. Racial tension is the highest it has been since 1968.

The ongoing opponent bashing by both political sides and their surrogates must stop. The focus should be the major issues facing our nation, from national security, to creating more living wage jobs, to providing excellent education for all Americans, to ending hunger in the most affluent country in the world. Most importantly the focus should be on how to bring our country together — to end the ongoing racial imbalance, and to address racial tensions in our communities.

To combat this negative rhetoric, on Oct. 13 the Iowa City Human Rights Commission and several partners will host Building and Crossing Bridges Together. In two sessions, from 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., local leaders and residents will demonstrate solidarity, propose an action plan, address and fight against ongoing hate and fearmongering tactics spread during and in the shadow of the current presidential campaign. For more information, contact Stefanie Bowers, City of Iowa City Human Rights Coordinator, at (319) 356-5022 or

Our diversity is our strength and is what makes America unique — an example to other nations. Working together while living respectfully and inclusively are the only pathways to prosperity for all.

The American experience is the human global experience with all its struggles, successes and challenges. If we turn against one another, we will turn against our collective American idealism, foundation and cherished values. Together we win, divided we lose.

Our most visionary Declaration of Independence, reminds us that, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”. Our constitution is the envy of nations. It is a living document that exemplifies our values, rich or poor, naturalized American, or American born, black or white, Latino, or Native American, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Atheist, LGBTQ, or straight, able or differently able.

Only in America can we exercise so many freedoms, but the journey is ongoing. Much work is yet to be done.


Please join us on Oct. 13 at the Iowa City Public Library for this free event. Let’s focus on how best to move beyond superficial dialogue and engage one another to become one cohesive community.

Americans have elected great Republican and Democrat presidents. From Abe Lincoln and George Washington to Thomas Jefferson and FDR. Regardless of who we vote for on Nov. 8, we as a nation can no longer ignore or minimize current divisive and dangerous tactics. We must stay united as a people, as a nation. We must build and cross bridges together.

• Shams Ghoneim of Iowa City is coordinator of the Iowa chapter of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Comments:



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