A special public panel on October 23 addressed challenges that Muslims in the United States continue to face, including suspicion and discrimination, and considered the role that faith communities might play in combating Islamophobia. Following an intensive, high-level summit also held at the Cathedral, the panel’s discussion came at a pivotal moment in international relations between Americans and nations where the majority population is Muslim—particularly in the aftermath of the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The panel was co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC) with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, newly appointed tenth dean of the Cathedral, moderated. Other participants included Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State (also chair of CSPC and member of the Cathedral Chapter); Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Association for Muslim Advancement; Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative; and Dr. James J. Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

“Washington National Cathedral has a long history of gathering people for conversations like this one, where we honor our common life and our common understanding of the One who is in our midst and how that understanding impacts our public life,” said Hall in his opening remarks. “That includes a long history of engagement with Muslim communities about interfaith relationships. Our goal is to build on the work done and to develop a mutual respect for minority and marginalized groups through a shared theological commitment to working together for a just peace and a sustainable climate for the flourishing of all human life.”

Hall affirmed a belief “that there is ample room for people of all faiths in this country” and added that, “given the opportunity, we can change the hearts and minds of those who disagree with us by gathering together pragmatically and not ideologically. We need to move through common action to discern and make real the common good. The question before us tonight is how to move forward.”

The panel discussion remains available for viewing at www.nationalcathedral.org.