Make time to heal our wounded

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People of faith must stand witness against hate and racism.

Following fatal mayhem in Charlottesville, Va., the nation must band together to denounce hate and violence, confronting the negative with love and unity.

We must shift gears, even as we continue to pray for the dead and wounded, to creatively and effectively address the ongoing escalation of racial, ethnic and religious strife and hate. Muslims, Jews, people of color, LGBTQ and members of other groups have been relentlessly attacked, maligned, used as scapegoats and killed under our collective watch.

The terrorist Mosque bombing in Minneapolis, as well as ongoing anti-Muslim and/or Islam hateful rhetoric and violence after such attacks, are all symptoms of a wave of hate and fear mongering sweeping the nation.

In Charlottesville, the Jewish community was forced to hire private security after local police denied synagogue worshippers protection from neo-Nazis. As Jews prayed, men dressed in fatigues and carrying semi-automatic rifles stood across the street.

What have our children — especially children from targeted groups — learned from these recent tragedies? How do we heal and support them and each other?

Many entities, including civil and human rights groups, must reconsider their role and strategy in fighting this threatening wave of violent supremacy claimed by one group or ideology. For instance, in response to Charlottesville, the ACLU decided it will no longer defend hate groups protesting with firearms.

Racist sentiments and groups have lurked under the surface since the civil rights movement. Such forces have been emboldened by recent political rhetoric, which may have allowed hate to ferment.

No one should sit on the margin, pretending election of the nation’s first biracial president cured it all. We need to work across political divides to not only rescue and heal our nation and children from this spreading menace, but to face its underlying causes. We need to protect our communities, children and grandchildren, and challenge all divisive voices.

The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and others are planning a series of forums to address the impact of violence, hate, terrorism and conflict on children. After recent tragedies, these events could not be more timely. Children are our best investment. We must cherish, protect, and guard them at such frightening times.

Upcoming (and still evolving) community forums are being developed in three segments:

• “Setting the Stage,” Sept. 21, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Coralville library — To acknowledge, underscore and understand the significance of the United Nation’s International Day of Peace.

• “Recording Experiences & Responses,” Oct. 21, 10 a.m. to noon — Event will be incorporated within the Iowa City downtown “Witching Hour.”

• “The Right to a Livable Future: Making All Children Matter,” Dec. 10 (Human Rights Day), 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Please join us in collectively celebrating our youth and addressing their needs and fears.

• Shams Ghoneim, of Iowa City, is coordinator of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa

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