July 27, 2020 — Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Muslim Jewish Circle of Friends, convened by American Jewish Committee (AJC), issued the following statement regarding an antisemitic Facebook posting by Rodney Muhammad, president of the NAACP’s Philadelphia Chapter.
We, at the Muslim Jewish Circle of Friends in Philadelphia, were shocked and saddened to learn that Philadelphia NAACP President Rodney Muhammad shared an antisemitic meme late last week. Minister Muhammad’s Facebook post depicted a caricature of a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke and pressing a large hand down on a mass of people. Similar caricatures trace back to before the Holocaust and have often been used by white supremacists to portray Jews as a force of greed and oppression.
Minister Muhammed has been a leader in Philadelphia and has supported important issues that matter to Black communities in the City. However, sharing such a cartoon is hateful and divisive, and demonstrates extremely poor judgment at a time when we are all struggling to confront bias, bigotry and hate.
Circle of Friends member Imam Salaam Muhsin has explained in response to attention created by Rodney Muhammed’s quote that there is no support for hate or antisemitism in the Holy Qur’an, and that one of our duties as human beings is to stand up to hate and affirm justice – Surah 4: Ayat 135.
We unequivocally condemn Minister Muhammed’s actions and ask that the NAACP hold him accountable. The NAACP has worked for more than 100 years to advance the cause of racial justice, equality, and striving for an inclusive society. This action by Minister Muhammed is in direct violation of the very principles upon which the NAACP was founded.
Majid Alsayegh, a member of the national Muslim Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC), has affirmed that we need to work together to dismantle hate and build upon our nation’s principles of religious pluralism and equality. MJAC, co-convened by AJC and the Islamic Society of North America, advocates on domestic policy issues of common concern to both communities and all Americans.
Circle of Friends invites Minister Rodney Muhammad and the leadership of Philadelphia NAACP to meet with us at one of our upcoming gatherings to dialogue and address issues of understanding.
Circle of Friends was founded in 2016. Founding chair Tom Tropp said that “we have celebrated four years of friendship and sharing of traditions and culture, but most importantly, we have been there to advocate for each other’s issues. We seek to build coalitions across social divides, not drive wedges between us.”
The Philadelphia Muslim-Jewish Circle of Friends is a group of business, professional, and religious leaders who are committed to creating opportunities for dialogue and learning across differences in religion and ethnicity in our region. We stand in solidarity against all forms of bigotry and hate.