President Obama reminds Americans to respect every faith, not to be influenced by fear

At his last State of the Union address, President Barack Obama said exactly what the American people need to hear in what has become a hostile political climate. He called on Americans to reject the targeting of people based solely on race or religion and clearly stated that vilifying Muslims, both abroad and citizens of the U.S., is un-American.  

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) and its Campaign to TAKE ON HATE welcome and appreciate President Obama’s direct address of this issue:

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"It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith.

When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country."

— President Barack Obama

The President’s commitment to diversity and inclusion was also reflected in the guests invited to attend the State of the Union address. Many Arab and Muslim Americans were present, including Syrian scientist and refugee Refaai Hamo, whose story was made popular by the photo blog “Humans of New York,” and ACCESS Executive Director Hassan Jaber (NNAAC is a national program of ACCESS). 

“As a community, and as citizens of this great nation, we stand firm that we are a strong union because of our unique diversity,” Jaber said.

The President’s remarks challenged Americans to remember the values that this country was built upon, to apply those values to all people and to not be influenced by fear. We applaud his decision to include such comments in his historic, final State of the Union address.

The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a program of ACCESS, is a national consortium of 24 independent Arab American community-based organizations. Its mission is the development of Arab American community-based nonprofit organizations that understand, meet the needs and represent the concerns of Arab Americans at a local level while collectively addressing those issues at a national level. NNAAC leads the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, a multi-year, grassroots campaign that strives to address issues of bias and challenges the growing discrimination and persistent misconception of Arab and Muslim Americans, including refugees.

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