Religious leaders – Muslim, Jewish, and Christian – met in Washington, DC, on Tuesday [September 7] to denounce anti-Muslim bigotry. More than 30 religious leaders [were] in one room with one aim: to stop a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment that has already had violent consequences.

There was the attack on a Muslim taxi driver in New York city; an arson attack on a mosque under construction in Tennessee; Florida Pastor Terry Jones' plans to burn copies of the Quran, which prompted a wave of angry protests in Afghanistan and Indonesia and, of course, protests against the building of an Islamic cultural centre – including a mosque – near Ground Zero in New York.

In Washington, the interfaith delegates also talked about the anti-Muslim backlash being a wedge issue in the forthcoming elections – particularly fears about the weak economy and high unemployment whipped up by extremists.

Dr Sayyid M Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America said: "Together we have said that we have a stake in this country. We have worked together and built trust, confidence understanding and goodwill. We will not let these fringe groups go ahead and destroy that."

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