MPAC Holds Press Conferences
in DC & LA on Bin Laden’s Death

Muslim Leaders, Law Enforcement & Interfaith Allies Stand Together

May 2, 2011

Earlier today, the Muslim Public Affairs Council held press conferences in Washington, DC, and Los Angeles with prominent Muslim American leaders, elected officials, law enforcement officials and interfaith allies to share their collective responses to the death of Osama bin Laden.

WATCH: Video of Washington, DC Press Conference

WATCH: Video of the Los Angeles Press Conference 

LISTEN: Audio from the Los Angeles Press Conference

MPAC leaders around the country greeted the news of bin Laden's death with an immense sense of relief and gratitude toward President Barack Obama and our military forces. 

"For the past decade, we have gone through much and have given both in blood and treasure to fight an elusive enemy,” said Haris Tarin, director of MPAC’s Washington, DC, office. “We also hope that this will be a new chapter in our relationship with Muslim majority countries. We hope that this opportunity will be used to move in a different direction, as the President stated last night.”

A combined total of more than 40 international, national and local media outlets attended the two press conferences, including CNN, Fox News, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, BBC, Reuters and the Associated Press. (Visit to view a round-up of media appearances by MPAC representatives since last night.)

Tarin was joined at the Washington, DC press conference by Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America; Rizwan Jaka, board member of the ADAMS Center in Virginia; and Alejandro Beutel, MPAC’s Government and Policy Analyst, who moderated the event.  

Magid reminded fellow Muslims that a diverse array of Americans have stood with Muslim Americans since 9/11 and differentiated between the terrorists behind 9/11 and the followers of Islam. Headded that his message to his community is that the Quran teaches Muslims to "stand firm for justice, even if is against our own self."

“I am very thankful to President Obama for making that distinction,” Magid said. "Bin Laden is not a Muslim leader and cannot be accepted in any community to be a leader because taking innocent life makes a person a criminal."

In Los Angeles, MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati and Senior Adviser Dr. Maher Hathout were joined by a prominent group of city leaders, including City Council President Eric Garcetti; the Rev. Jeff Carr, Chief of Staff for Mayor Antonio VillaraigosaL.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca; LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Downing; Steve Gomez, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI-LA Field Office; Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater, Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center and Chairman of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative; Rabbi Steve Jacobs, founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation; John Ishvaradas Abdallah, World Without Borders Interfaith Sufi Ashram; Adnan Ul Haq Khan, President of the Council of Pakistan American Affairs; and Edina Lekovic, MPAC’s Director of Policy and Programming, who moderated the event. 

 “In the United States, we can focus on the cohesiveness and unity of our society and look forward to seeing a better America, not seeing Muslims through the lens of dictators or through the lens of terrorists,” Hathout said. “There is a reality of Muslims that should be embraced and fostered in order to contribute alongside all other elements in our society in making the future of America.” 

“People are worried that something is going to happen now that Osama Bin Laden has been killed,” Garcetti said. “We want to assure everyone out there that this is a safe city."

Downing reinforced the sentiments of all law enforcement officials present in stressed that we all must stand together in this important moment and continue investing in our partnership in order to move forward as one united community. 

“This really marks the closing of a dark era and beginning of a new fresh hopeful era,” Downing said. “We’ve always said that our real counterterrorism strength came from our partnership with the Muslim communities, and especially the Muslim Public Affairs Council who’s been so vocal on the issue. They have been the ones to denounce terrorism, to denounce violence, to denounce Osama bin Laden from the very beginning. We very much appreciate that. We will continue this partnership because it brings real resiliency for our communities, and it’s going to be the longer term solution to this phenomenon we are seeing.”

Jacobs, founder of the Progressive Faith Foundation, reminded those gathered that the mainstream Muslim voice has now been heard. 

“Today, the Muslim voice is heard throughout the world and no one can say anymore, ‘where are the Muslim voices?' ” Jacobs said. “If I have any quiet jubilation about the demise of Osama Bin Laden, it is that our brothers and sisters can finally be heard. They have a message about peace and how we are to get along.”

Baca underscored that there is still work to be done. 

“It’s a real privilege for us to be here at the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s headquarters, where so many Muslim Americans throughout this region of America have stood up,” Baca said. “We not only support this nation’s safety plans, we are part of this nation’s safety plans. We are going to continue to work closely with our own organization, the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress, and we are going to unify ourselves with our faiths –Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and all the various forms of worship. We’re all united in Los Angeles county to be the best Americans we can be.”

“Our unity in America will be even more vital here, in protecting our country and enriching our pluralism,” Al-Marayati said. “With the unity that we have demonstrated today, we thank law enforcement, we thank our government partners, we thank the Muslim community and our Jewish and Christian allies in demonstrating pluralism and unity against all forms of extremism.”

Today, the Department of Homeland Security also conducted a conference call with Muslim American leaders nationwide. DHS officials stated there has not been credible information to suggest there is an imminent terrorist threat on the U.S. and the national threat level will not be elevated. However, they asked everyone to remain vigilant. They also stated if there is any backlash in the community in the form of hate crimes to first call 911 and then contact your local police and FBI offices. If you need help contacting your local law enforcement offices, contact MPAC at 323-258-MPAC. 

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