On Tuesday morning, Mujtaba Mohammed, a lawyer on our Children’s Defense Team, was approached by local television stations to be interviewed about a Presidential candidate’s call to bar Muslims from entering the United States based on nothing but their religion. Mujtaba consulted with me about the interview because he was concerned about the possibility of repercussions if his expression of his personal views were identified with the Council. I was not concerned about the Council being associated with Mujtaba. The Council is proud of Mujtaba and of all of our other advocates for children’s rights.
My only hesitation was my concern for the personal difficulty that Mujtaba might face being singled out as a Muslim lawyer and asked to speak about such an affront to himself, to his family, and to Muslims generally. I know how difficult that would be for me. Mujtaba assured me that he could handle the pressure.
As you can see at the links below, Mujtaba was correct, and the Council and the rest of the family of advocates for children’s rights in our community have even more reason to be proud of him than before,
Tuesday afternoon, most of our staff was unaware of Mujtaba’s interview, and, with his permission, I shared this message with them and share it with you all now:
This quote comes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s. Letter from the Birmingham Jail and I’m sharing it with you to help us remember why we do what we do every day.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
I share this quote with you today as we join in solidarity with our friend and colleague Mujtaba Mohammed, the millions of other Americans who are Muslims, and the nearly two billion Muslims in the world.
Imagine what it must be like to hear the leading Presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties shouting to an angry, fist-pumping mob that all people who share your religion should be kept out of the United States of America. I cannot imagine that.
We should not accept that: as advocates for the rights of children, as Americans, as people.
How is that relevant to us as advocates for children’s rights? First, there is the obvious: as with the insecurity imposed on children by our State’s refusal to provide expanded Medicaid coverage to their uninsured parents, anything that adversely affects the well-being of adults with children adversely affects the well-being of their children. Second, children’s rights are human rights, and King’s quote reminds us that we cannot, as advocates for children’s rights, stand silently by while anybody’s rights are threatened.
This outrageous proposal demonstrates a profound and willful disregard for our law and our history, and it has no legitimate place in the politics of our nation of laws “…conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
As advocates for justice for children in our community, it is our duty to stand up for justice everywhere and to speak out against injustice anywhere. It is our job to look past stereotypes born of fear and ignorance to see and to accept each person for who they are as an individual, not assuming that how they look or sound or pray should set them apart for different treatment.
Looking our fears in the eye and maintaining both our humanity and our commitment to liberty and justice for all is the American way, and it is the only way we will ultimately defeat terrorism in all of the guises it assumes.
Thank you for joining the struggle together every day for what is right for everybody.
Bob Simmons, Executive Director, Council for Children’s Rights
December 9, 2015