Public Statements

/Public Statements

IOST Statement on the September 11 Memorial in Owego

Contrary to what some media outlets have reported, The Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier did not ask for or request any change to the memorial in Owego, NY honoring the victims of the September 11 attacks.

IOST stands in solidarity with all Americans in remembering the victims of the heinous 9/11 attacks and joins our community, neighbors and friends in prayers for peace in the United States and the rest of the world.

We want to emphatically state that our faith, Islam, prohibits all acts of violence and requires that the sanctity of life be recognized and preserved, regardless of religious background, race, color, or gender.

Lastly, please join us in a Remembrance and Peace Vigil organized by the Children of Abraham on Sunday (September 11, 2016) at 6:00 PM at the IOST located at 161 Grand Avenue, Johnson City, NY.

Statement for 4th of July 2016

IOST and its members are proud to be Americans who care about the Greater Binghamton Area community, country, and the world. This 4th of July is the best time to tell our fellow Americans that we love our country, can’t wait to see the fireworks tonight, and to please be safe and take care of our neighbors as well as show compassion to those who are suffering from terrorist attacks here and around the world.

Just recently two Muslim men were attacked outside the mosques in Texas and Florida. Both Baghdad, Iraq and Dhaka, Bangladesh have been attacked by terrorists killing at least 200 in Baghdad (CNN) and at least 22 in Dhaka (WSJ) including two Emory University Muslim Students, Aminta Kabir and Feraaz Hussain. The Bangladeshi army killed 6 terrorists and freed 13 hostages during its rescue operation. Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Shaikh Hasina, announced two days of national mourning on Sunday. She called on Bangladeshi people to rise up against extremism. Although ISIS, who killed mostly Muslims, claimed responsibility for the attacks, home minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the café attacks were “all Bangladeshis and had no foreign connections.”

On Sunday, Iraqi firefighters and civilians pulled out bodies of victims killed by a bomb in Baghdad. Associated Press reports that many of those murdered were children. ISIS claimed responsibility online but NPR wasn’t able to verify that claim. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced three days of mourning. Amateur videos on social media showed locals throwing objects at a convoy carrying al-Abadi in Karrada. These videos showed protesters yelling “thief!” and “get out!”

We as Americans who stood up earlier along with other countries saying “We are Paris” and “We are Brussels” after attacks there should also stand in solidarity with Iraq and Bangladesh saying “We are Baghdad” and “We are Bangladesh” to show the world what we Americans are all about. May Allah (Arabic name for God) guide us all to the right path and protect us from evil. Please stay safe and have a wonderful Fourth!

Taken from WNY Muslims and Amber Shaikh

Statement on Orlando Attacks | June 14, 2016

The Islamic Organization of Southern Tier wishes to offer its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all those that were killed or injured during the early morning massacre carried out by a lone gunman at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Since the investigation has only begun, it is not clear what drove Omar Mateen to take this action and why he chose Ramadhan, the holiest of Muslim months, to commit this heinous crime.  Whatever his motives, the killing of innocent people is in no way justifiable.  His actions were evil and, without a doubt, contradict a fundamental Islamic belief that the sanctity of life is to be recognized and preserved regardless of religious background, color, creed, race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Muslims have been part of the American fabric for over a hundred years and, in the Southern Tier, for over fifty.  Over these years, Muslims have stood firmly in support of social justice and against racism and bigotry.  Ironically, the Orlando attack has come days after the Louisville interfaith memorial where thousands of people from all faiths and backgrounds gathered to celebrate the life of Muhammad Ali, a tireless champion for social justice.  Today, we hope that Americans will continue to look at Muslims through the lens of Muhammad Ali rather than such deranged people like Omar Mateen or the San Bernardino killers.

Organizations like ISIS and Al Qaeda would like nothing better than to create a schism in the American society.  In that regard, we are alarmed by the inflammatory anti-Muslim rhetoric by our leading politicians which plays right into the hands of our enemies.  We urge our leaders to be resolute about “America being one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We also urge them to address the gun laws in a bi-partisan fashion and make it impossible for people like Omar Mateen to have access to assault weapons without an exhaustive background check. It is not just about Omar Mateen, it is also about people like Dylaan Roof, a white supremacist who murdered 9 people in the South Carolina church or Robert Dear, a fundamental Christian who killed 3 people at a Planned Parenthood center and countless others.

We are reminded that the LGBTQ community has stood by the Muslims in protesting against our presumptive presidential nominee’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration and against the fostering of Islamaphobia.  Today, we stand with them in condemning in the strongest terms the hate crime committed by Omar Mateen and offer our prayers and support to them and the broader community of Orlando as they cope with this insane tragedy.

Finally, we leave you with verse 155, chapter 2 of the Quran:

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth and lives, but give glad tidings to those that remain patient and, when affected with calamity, say “Truly, to God we belong and Truly to Him we shall return” Amen.

Statement on Brussels Attacks | March 23, 2016

Yesterday, a series of deadly attacks in Belgium killed over 30 people, just four days after a bombing killed over 35 people in Ankara, Turkey.

Both of these attacks are terrorist attacks on innocent people. All terrorist attacks, be it in Belgium, Turkey, Ivory Coast, or anywhere else are horrendous crimes against humanity. We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families and we hope and pray that the perpetrators are brought to justice both in this world and the hereafter.

Indeed, Islam is a religion of peace and these attacks in no way represent Islam and its teachings. Most of these attacks are claimed by so called Islamic groups. We want to categorically say that there is nothing Islamic about these people and their actions are evil and, without a doubt, contradict a fundamental Islamic belief that the sanctity of life, regardless of religious background, is to be recognized and preserved.

“…Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely…” – (Quran 5:34)

Statement on Religious Discrimination | December 21, 2015

The following speech was delivered by Brother Ehtisham Siddiqui, the president and trustee of IOST, on December 21, 2015 at Peace Park in Binghamton, NY:

I am Ehtisham Siddiqui, a Trustee of the Islamic Organization of Southern Tier and its current President. I stand before you representing the 1,000 or so Muslims that reside in the Southern Tier and call it their home. Most of us, including me, are first generation immigrants and proud citizens of the United States.

I would like to begin by recognizing the efforts of Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell and other leaders of the Children of Abraham group in bringing us together to speak out against discrimination of any sort against any religious group in this country. I thank the Faith Leaders that are here today for their personal engagement in making this happen.

Today’s event has been driven by our collective determination to respond to the extreme anti-Muslim rhetoric espoused by mainstream Media and by some of our prominent politicians. Our faith and our allegiance to this country is continuously being questioned. Our statements and our stance against terrorist acts are critically examined and repeatedly tested. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that there have been more incidents of damage, destruction and vandalism of Mosques this year than at any other time since the 9/11.

So, I want to take this opportunity to explicitly and unequivocally state that attacks on innocent civilians, whether they occur in Boston, Paris, San Bernardino, or any other city in the world, are outrageous acts and without justification. We condemn these horrific crimes in the strongest terms possible.

Most of these attacks are claimed by so called Islamic groups such as Al Qaeda or the ‘Islamic State’. Let me categorically say that there is nothing Islamic about these people and their actions are evil and, without a doubt, contradict a fundamental Islamic belief that the sanctity of life, regardless of religious background, is to be recognized and preserved.

“Whosoever kills a person unjustly is as if he has killed the whole of mankind; and whosever saves the life of a person is as if he has saved the life of the whole of humankind” Chapter 5, verse 32.

We are being vigilant in our community and are in touch with the federal and local safety agencies. We are also comforted and reassured by the outpouring of support from members of the Churches and Synagogues of the Southern Tier. For this, we are hugely indebted and grateful.

We will be holding an open house for the broader community on Saturday, the 2nd of January, from 1:00 to 4:00PM at the Islamic Center in Johnson City. We would be delighted if you could all take time out of your busy schedule to visit us.

Thank you.