Our Interfaith Response to Islamophobia

Last month, after the tragic events in Paris, Beirut, Egypt, and Iraq, I wrote to the Muslim community, expressing our solidarity with them. In that letter, I wrote on behalf of my colleagues in Campus Ministry:

We grieve with you for the loss of life. In these anxious times, rhetoric gets heated, and public opinion makers can make crass and rash generalizations, impugning and mischaracterizing Islam, the religion that you hold dear. We stand with you in ardently rejecting Islamophobia, and violence in all forms.

Last week, terror struck our country in southern California. We again grieve senseless loss of life, stand with the victims, and condemn violence in all forms, particularly when waged in the name of any religion. As our nation joins other nations in finding solutions to address threats from terrorism, we sadly hear voices that demean the Muslim community as a whole.

I thus write to all students from our various religious communities to stand together in these anxious times, when the temptation of division and mistrust is more present. As a Catholic and Jesuit university long committed to interreligious dialogue, we are a community that cherishes people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Such interreligious understanding is the way to lasting peace in our world. Your friendship with one another – your studying together, playing together, serving together, and praying together – is the best antidote to both violent extremism and vitriolic rhetoric that seeks only to scare and divide. Such community in diversity expresses the utter creativity of God and offers a vision of what the world can look like in all of its splendor.

Though the semester is drawing to a close, the hard work of thinking through the underlying issues that promote lasting peace and justice continues in earnest. Thankfully, this is what universities like Georgetown do well. As a Jesuit university, we deepen that thinking by bringing the best of our religious traditions to the conversation. In ways large and small, we invite you to join us in this most holy and human endeavor.


Rev. Kevin O’Brien, SJ
Vice President for Mission and Ministry

Rabbi Rachel Gartner
Director for Jewish Life

Imam Yahya Hendi
Director for Muslim Life

Rev. Bryant Oskvig
Director of the Protestant Chaplaincy

Rev. Greg Schenden, SJ
Roman Catholic Chaplain

V. Rev. Constantine White
Director of the Orthodox Chaplaincy

Mission and Ministry