Media Statements

Statement on Beirut Bombing | 2020

Our hearts go out to the people of Beirut, Lebanon after the horrific explosion, which took the lives of over a hundred people, injured thousands, and inflicted untold damage on the city. 

Beirut is a beautiful city, home to people of many religions and cultures. We know they will rise in strength. But we grieve with them now. 

We lift our prayers and we encourage people of goodwill to give as they are able to organizations serving those affected. Here are three organizations doing so:  

Lebanese Red Cross:  

Islamic Relief: 

Impact Lebanon: 

Board of Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida

August 6, 2020

Times Union Article; Follow the golden rule

Guest column: Faith leaders call on neighbors to remember the golden rule.

As faith leaders, we offer our comfort and encouragement to the people of Jacksonville and Northeast Florida as we face the first local cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, as well as to our neighbors and family around the nation and world facing this crisis.

This trying time will call on all of us to learn new ways of being good neighbors.

To be good neighbors, we will take concrete actions of love based on guidance from public health experts. Loving our neighbor as ourselves and caring for the sick is integral to our religious traditions.

As this virus spreads rapidly and impacts many more people than the seasonal flu, especially people who are elderly or have compromised immune systems, there are personal and communal ways we can show love.

It is wise to continue personal hygiene measures, such as keeping social distance and washing hands. Additionally, it is important to immediately self-quarantine if one is sick. Communally, many of our faith communities are already canceling in-person worship and other gatherings to protect vulnerable congregants and help stem the spread of the virus.

To be good neighbors, we should act compassionately toward economically vulnerable people in our community who may not have adequate supplies, employment or child care during the coming weeks of cancellations and social distancing.

We should support children who may not have meals because schools are closed. We should support small businesses and gig workers who will be affected by events being canceled and public gatherings being limited.

Compassion is a common calling across our traditions. Our faith communities, while taking care not to risk spreading infection, can rise to the occasion of being helpers to all who have need.

To be good neighbors, we will build community in new and old ways. We will reach out to each other with phone calls, texts, video-conferencing, live streaming worship and novel ways of being together at a distance, even as we share the ageless encouragements of love and hope.

We will comfort each other as we face our fears. We will even find ways to celebrate and take joy. Physical isolation does not have to split us apart as a human family.

With hope, resilience and with a commitment to careful community, we will face the trial of coronavirus together. We can do this by being good neighbors to each other in Northeast Florida and beyond.


Matt Hartley, Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida   Rev. Kyle Reese, OneJax   Imam M. Bilal Malik, Islamic Center of North East Florida

Rabbi Jonathan Lubliner, Jacksonville Jewish Center   Padma Murlidharan, Board Chair, Hindu Society of North East Florida

Rev. Emily Knight, Riverside Park United Methodist Church   Rev. Regina Jackson, Restoration of Truth Ministries   Sukhbir Singh, Sikh Society of North East Florida

Baha’i Faith, St. Johns County  Parvez Ahmed, Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida  Basma Alawee, Community Organizer

Rev. Holly Inglis, Palms Presbyterian Church  Rev. Laurie Furr-Vancini, Palms Presbyterian Church  Joey McKinnon, Faith in Public Life

Sel Buyuksarac, Community Leader  Adbul-Hai Dawud Bajwa Thomas, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Orlando Chapter  Rev. Susan H. Rogers, The Well at Springfield

Ranna Abdul, Arab American Community Center   Rev. Avery Garner, St. Luke’s Community Church  Yildirim Sivar, Interfaith Center of Northeast Florida

Ismail Ulukaya, Istanbul Cultural Center  Rev. Britt Hester, Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church  Lucinda Mosher, NeighborFaith Consultancy

Rev. Sarah Locke, Jacksonville Campus Ministry

March 18, 2020

Condolences on Sri Lankan Easter Sunday Bombing

It is with heavy hearts and so much sadness that yet again we are condemning acts of violence and terrorism against those who were peacefully participating in hoy day celebrations of their faith. The Sri Lankan church and hotel bombings on Easter Sunday was intended to bring terror during a day of remembrance and faith. This attack was not a sole gunman, but a larger well organized group of militants who have struck fear into so many Sri Lankan families. We mourn for the 200 plus people killed and hope our prayers support the 450 more who were injured in numerous blasts in several cities. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families that will always be affected by this senseless violence. Attacks on any house of worship attacks freedom of religion and there should be no place for this violence in any society. The message of interfaith understanding is to support and love people of all faiths and stand by them during tragedy.

April 2019

Atlantic Institute

Atlantic Institute’s Statement on Mass Shooting in New Zealand

Dear Friends of Atlantic Institute,

Thank you so much for the meaningful, emotion-filled, and inspiring words expressed to us and the Muslim community in Jacksonville, after the horrific shootings at the mosques in Christchurch New Zealand. We are appreciative to have such caring friends showing solidarity to the Muslim community and the interfaith community in general. It is during these times the interfaith community shows its strength and resilience to stand up for truth and to stand against bigotry and xenophobia.

The Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville condemns the act of violence committed at two Mosques in New Zealand. We are horrified that so many people could be killed while peacefully praying at their place of worship. Our hearts and prayers go to the families and friends of those affected by this terrorist act. An attack on any house of worship is an attack on the freedom of religion and there is no place for this violence in any society. We call on the interfaith community to support and love people of all faiths and stand by them in this time of tragedy.

March, 2019

Atlantic Institute

Atlantic Institute’s Statement on Mass Shooting in Pittsburgh Synagogue

Our hearts are shattered by the attack on Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh today, where a man murdered at least 11 people and injured more in an act of religiously motivated violence. We grieve with the people of this congregation, and stand with our Jewish friends and neighbors in Jacksonville and around the world.

As an Interfaith community, we call on people of faith to take concrete actions to confront the scourges of anti-semitism and gun violence, which inflict hatred and death on our neighbors. No person should feel unsafe in their place of worship, or school, or grocery store. An attack on one house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship.

We are better together, as a people of diverse culture and religion. We call on our elected officials and all people of good conscience to rise to this higher standard of what America can be and to forsake any rhetoric which incites anti-semitism and bigotry of any form.”

October, 28 2018

Atlantic Institute

Building Bridges

Thanks to Folio Weekly for our Bouquet mention with Faith in Public Life for their Building Bridges to Protect Religious Minorities Convening.

August, 2017

Atlantic Institute

Travel Ban

Making America safe should always be a high priority for our government, and The Atlantic Institute supports actions taken by the US government to secure the safety of the people within its borders, provided they are constitutional and do not undermine our democratic values. We are however, concerned that recent action taken by the White House administration may be unnecessarily drastic and counterproductive to our national security and democratic goals.

Immigration and diversity have been the cornerstones of American society, since the first Pilgrims began arriving 400 years ago, creating a safe haven for those escaping persecution in Europe. Despite this integral tradition, the Trump administration has recently issued a temporary travel ban on seven Muslim majority nations: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. We stand with those in our community who are affected by this recent executive order.

We continue to believe that our partnerships with peoples around the world are paramount to our security and peace-building goals, and we support measures that strengthen our bonds with people around the world, rather than those which keep us divided. We remain confident that the American people and the government are able to overcome this recent seven nation travel & immigration ban. In the meantime, we urge our communities to continue to work together and respect one another, regardless of faith, culture, immigration status, or point of view.

The Atlantic Institute’s mission is to promote peace, understanding and friendship through interfaith and intercultural dialogue. As such, we offer our unwavering support for those who may be affected by or feel ostracized by these recent executive actions, and will continue to facilitate and join any effort to reconcile social and political tensions through respectful dialogue.

February, 2017

Atlantic Institute

Thanks to JSO and local FBI

Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville is grateful to local and federal law enforcement agencies for unfolding recently planned mass shooting at Islamic Center of North East Florida. As a community partner with many interfaith organizations in Jacksonville, we extend our thanks to JSO and local FBI. Atlantic Institute’s mission motivates us to work harder for an inclusive Jacksonville with our community partners. We believe faith leaders play a vital role in building bridges and spreading language of peace. It is most timely to remember St Francis of Assisi’s prayer when faced with hatred.

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace, where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love.”

Alex Sivar
Board Chair
Atlantic Institute of Jacksonville

December, 2017

Atlantic Institute

Statement On San Bernardino Shooting

We, as the Atlantic Instutite, strongly condemn the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. We stand united with the people around the world in mourning the loss of innocent lives and offering our deepest condolences to the families.

We will honor the victims by strengthening our commitment to peace, tolerance and mutual respect.



The Atlantic Institute and its regional affiliates condemn the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino that has left so many innocent people dead and many more injured. The murder of civilians is immoral, barbaric, and in direct contravention of the major tenets of Islam. No grievance ever justifies such heinous, no cause is ever served by such actions and no grievance will ever get heard as a result of such actions. Vast majority of human beings, no matter what their religion or nationality, will always reject such wanton violence.

Islam recognizes that all life is sacred and anyone who takes the life of any innocent person is akin to killing all of humanity. The actions of groups or individuals engaged in acts of terror do not represent the faith or actions of the overwhelming majority of Muslims worldwide. A recent Gallup poll showed that 89 percent of Muslim Americans reject violent individual attacks on civilians as compared to 71 percent of Christians and 75 percent of Jews. Muslims are the least likely to justify attacks on civilians.

The dreadful acts of mass shootings, bombings, beheadings, etc. will never be condoned and will always be strongly deplored.

Terrorism is designed to strike fear in the hearts of people. Following Paris and San Bernardino, fear has gripped much of American society. It is useful to be reminded that the actions of any individual do not reflect upon others who happen to share that person’s faith or nationality or race. ISIS commits its action claiming to act in the name of Islam. However, an examination of the basic tenants of Islam and its practice by vast majority of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide shows that ISIS ideology and actions are outside the mainstream teachings of Islam.

We appeal to all of our fellow Americans of conscience to avoid stereotyping Muslims and stand steadfast against those voices who aim to spread fear and divisiveness. We unequivocally denounce ISIS and similar groups who are engaged in any form of terrorism. We condemn their murderous ideology and their brutal tactics. ISIS wants to divide the world between Muslims and non-Muslims. We want to stay united in the fellowship of our common humanity.

Atlantic Institute is a non-profit organization headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia whose goal is to facilitate dialogue and bridge cultures around the globe. Through a wide range of activities that bring local community members from various ethnic and religious backgrounds, we seek to proactively contribute to educational, cultural, social, and humanitarian issues in our community. We believe in the power of personal interaction and communicative dialogue as they are the best channels to build mutual understanding, trust, and harmony for a peaceful world.

(Atlanta, GA – 12/10/2015)


President and CEO