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Transcript of Mayor Nutter's speech to CAIR banquet April 3 2010 in Philadelphia

April 14, 2010

Transcript of Mayor Nutter's speech to CAIR banquet April 3 2010 in Philadelphia

First let me say Asalam Aleikum. It really is a great honor to have been asked to be here at CAIR's fourth banquet. This Council on American Islamic Relations is a great organization that is doing fantastic work. You saw much of the work on different video displays and on the Philadelphia and the surrounding counties continue to become increasingly diverse and at least in Philadelphia and I think in the counties we look at diversity as a great strength of our city and of our region. But there is so much more for all of us to get to know about each other. When we take the time to listen and to talk to communicate and spend time with each other I'm sure we find that we have more in common then we have have our differences. And if we address our differences in a logical rational fashion we engage in civil dialogue not the things that we've been seeing on TV recently. There's nothing wrong with having a healthy debate even about the issue of health care. But some of the things that folks have gotten into are way way way over the top. They've been disrespectful to the president of the United States. Disrespectful to members of Congress. Whatever your position has been on healthcare there is a way to engage in legitimate dialogue. And we see the same thing when it comes to members of the Muslim community and practicing their faith Islam. CAIR though gives us an opportunity to not only share information but to make sure that information is put out that is correct that people are not discriminated against. We will never tolerate discrimination against anyone for their religion for their race or sexual preference or where they've came from or how they arrived here. Unless you are an American Indian everyone is an immigrant to the United States of America everyone is an immigrant. (applause).

Through the Mayors office of Faith Based Intitiatives and Minister Bird is here with us this evening I have the opportunity to work with any number of Islam(sic) leaders and learn more and more about not only Islam the religion but also about the Muslim community right here in Philadelphia. I have the opportunity from time to time to meet with leaders in the Muslim community and most recently discuss the issue of the census.

I'm sure everyone has heard time and time and time again we've been trying to get that information out as much as possible. Please make sure you fill out your census. Census day was just the other day but of course the forms can still go in. The census is safe it is secure. We want to make sure that everyone is getting representation in the State House and in the Congress but also that we're getting our fair share of resources coming back to
Philadelphia and to Pennslyvania. I know there are always concerns about engagement with the government. I'm here to tell you as the leader of Philadelphia it is safe it is secure there are no questions about your social security number there are no questions about your immigration status whatever it might be. And none of that information can be shared with any other agency. So I encourage you if you have not sent your census form back, I know you may have received it that is half of the equation sending it back is the other half so make sure that you send it back.

I want to applaud you for the many works which have been done throughout the city of Philadelphia again we saw much of that on the video display. But making sure that people have the proper representation that their issues are being addressed, that we not tolerate discrimination in the workplace or in housing employment or any other walk of life. That people should be able to pray and respect others religion no matter where you are. The work that you collaborated with the Islamic Social Services Association of Philadelphia resulting in a new free health clinic in Nicetown is the kind of work that is an example should be an model to many others to many others across the city and across the region.

Now I want to address one particular issue. That is our own city government. We've had conversations with leaders in the Muslim community. We're expecting to put together a training and education program for the top officials in our city government and additionally with our Philadelphia police department. We want to make sure that everyone at the highest levels gets a much better understanding of who our American Muslim community is and what they're about. What Islam is about and what it's not. And dispel any fears or ideas and notions that people may have (applause).

We want to make sure that in our city government that people are not harboring thoughts that may have come from being ill informed or lack of information and working with this organization and a number of others we want to make sure that top officials of the government are paying attention to these kinds of issues.

I see that we have NBC 10 their microphone right here and I want to recognize them for covering this particular event. I saw you had some video from earlier. Let me just say this and I've said this publicly before. This is regarding our news media who have a responsibility to cover events and lay out the facts they are what they are. But I want to make this a very serious moment with regard to how news gets reported. Now I was born and raised Catholic and now I'm a member of the Mount Carmel Baptist Church in West Philadelphia. I worked when I was a teenager a block up the street from my house at a drugstore that was run by a family who were of the Jewish faith so I've had a little bit of a broad exposure to a variety of religions. I've never read in the newspaper that someone was a Catholic burglar. I've never read in the paper I've never seen on TV that someone was a Protestant bank robber. I've never read or seen anything that anyone was a Baptist protester, a Jewish criminal a Hindu murderer. But I have seen and I have read and I have reviewed any number of newspapers, radio reports, TV telecasts where the description of a person who may have done something wrong or did do something wrong was preceded by Muslim whatever. I don't understand that. (applause) I don't understand that.

A variety of people from different religions commit crime every day. The one thing I know about the Muslim community is that you have a tremendous respect for the law and you are peaceful. And so there should never be a descriptor .If we're not going to describe Catholics, if we're not going to describe Baptists, if we're not going to describe Protestants, Hindu, people of the Jewish faith or any others as it relates to something they may have done or you may read that someone had Muslim garb on. And sometimes people use that to hide themselves. They have nothing to do with being a Muslim they have nothing to do with Islam whatsoever. This is used as a disquise. But if I were to do something I don't think that someone would report that he had Baptist garb on. I don't think that that would happen. So I want our media to be very very sensitive. I want our media to be very very sensitive about how these descriptions are put out in the media.

Because there could be a secondary message. People should be afraid, people should be wary, and all it does is cause more division between and among us where we need more unity. We're all Americans. We may have come from different places at different times and different circumstances. (applause). This country was founded, this country was founded in Philadelphia on principles of freedom of religion. That there is no national religion. That people came here because they were persecuted because of their religion. How in the world could we in Philadelphia, or in Pennslyvania or the United States of America ever allow anyone including our media to put out images, to put out information and innuendo that would ever disgrace or slander someone else's religion.So I want us to be very very careful about how we communicate these messages. (applause).

As I mentioned before it is a great honor to be here with you. And I look forward to working with CAIR and many other organizations that support and represent the interests of American Muslims in communicating information about Islam all throughout Philadelphia, our region, across our state and across the United States of America. May Allah bring you blessings. God bless you.

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