Leaders unite to fight anti-Muslim rhetoric

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CHICAGO -- On Wednesday a diverse group gathered at the Chicago Temple to speak out against anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence.

"There is a toxic wind blowing in our country," Said the Rev. Jesse Jackson. "We must not allow this toxic environment to become policy."

Added Dr. Mohammed Arain, "These words or hate and bigotry and division are having their consequences."

 The leaders say violence against Muslim-Americans has become an urgent problem.

 The Council on American-Islamic Relations says in the weeks following the Paris terror attacks, it received more reports of intimidation and violence against American Muslims than during any time since 9/11.

"Mosques are being attacked or firebombed on a weekly basis," said Azam Nizamuddin, President of  Muslim Bar Association of Chicago. "It’s important that we look and stand with one another."

The group highlighted anti-Muslim rhetoric flowing from politicians. The Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is proposing banning Muslim from entering the U.S.

"It is our obligation to stand with those who are being selected to be scapegoats of problems of our country," said Jesus Chuy Garcia.

 The leaders also touched on the continuing debate about the U.S. acceptance of refugees. A number of states have said they will suspend accepting Syrian refugees. The coalition worries this is a bad case of history repeating itself.

"It was actually argued that German Jews should not be allowed into the United States because they might be Nazi terrorists. An absurd claim," said Paul Strauss of the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

The group said they need more people to speak out against intolerance. Rev. Jackson saying first people pointed the figure at Mexican immigrants, then it was refugees, then Muslims. The wind, he said, is blowing in the wrong direction, and people need to take a stand.