Imam calls for universal respect, attends State of the Union address 


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By Jennifer Amato

SOUTH BRUNSWICK — In response to the hateful and discriminatory rhetoric
against Muslims that has appeared in recent weeks, Congresswoman Bonnie
Watson Coleman (D-Middlesex, Mercer) expressed her solidarity with the American Muslim
community by inviting Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli, of the Islamic Society of
Central Jersey, as her guest to President Barack Obama’s final State of
the Union Address on Jan. 12.
Watson Coleman, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has
vocally opposed recent Congressional efforts to prevent Syrian refugees,
most of whom are Muslim, from entering the country, and has pushed back
against proposals to bar all Muslims from entering the United States.
“The attacks experienced in the Muslim community right now are the same
kinds of attacks that African Americans know well, and I refuse to allow
them to go unchecked,” Watson Coleman said. “Muslim Americans are a part
of the incredible fabric of our nation. They are our brothers and
sisters, and citizens of the United States. To disrespect them because
of who they worship, or to scapegoat what is around the world a peaceful
religion flies in the face of every American value.”
In addition to asking him to join her at the State of the Union on Jan.
12, Watson Coleman worked with Chebli to bring a delegation of more than
20 Muslims to Sunday worship services at her church, Shiloh Baptist in
“In the religious texts of Islam. Christianity and Judaism, there is a
central theme. In the Koran it says, ‘all mankind, I created you and I
made you nations and tribes to know each other.’ We are all the children
of God. We should live together, respecting one another,” Chebli said.
Watson Coleman noted that the shared worship service offered a reminder
to her congregation, and the broader community, that there are many
values shared between Islam and Christianity, and that our humanity
should be valued above all else.
“We all love our God, we all love our country, peace and democracy. We
must focus first on what we share. From there, as a nation of immigrants
has already proved, the qualities that make us different will only make
us stronger.”

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Contact Jennifer Amato at

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