Mexico City, 27 Dzulhijjah 1436/11 October 2015 (MINA) – Rejecting hate message of anti-Muslim protesters, interfaith leaders and members of the Shoulder to Shoulder campaign joined the Friday service held at the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Headquarters in Plainfield, IN, showing their support and solidarity after threat of armed protests.
“We are overwhelmed by the love and support of our interfaith friends who took the time out of their day to stand by our sides,” ISNA Secretary General Hazem Bata said in a statement sent to On Islam quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting.
“Getting to know your neighbor is a way to combat the divisiveness and build bridges. It brings us closer as fellow Americans, as one human family.”
Bata was referring to the anti-Muslim “Global Rally for Humanity”, which is scheduled for October 9th and 10th in more than twenty cities across the US.
The armed protests and rallies will target mosques, high-traffic Muslim communities and government buildings.
The slogan for the group and their series of rallies is “The World is Saying No to Islam,” and a flyer widely circulated by the group mentions the “3%ers and Oathkeepers.”
Responding to the calls of hate groups, ISNA urged Muslims to engage with their wider society, building coalitions and relationships.
A similar message was conveyed during Friday sermon in which Bata focused on how to respond to unfriendly individuals.
Bata cited the example of the Prophet’s treatment of people, including enemies, with kindness, and how this changed one individual from an enemy of Islam to one of its great leaders.
After the prayer service, Professor Ken Barger from Veterans for Peace shared words of support with the congregation.
Afterwards the interfaith guests enjoyed refreshments and meeting members of the congregation.
Attending the sermon, interfaith leaders asserted their rejection of the hate protests.
“Thankfully these protests do not represent a majority of the American public, however they do represent a national rhetoric of anti-Muslim bigotry that has grown pernicious and widespread,” Catherine Orsborn, campaign director of Shoulder to Shoulder, said in a statement published on the campaign’s website.
“When people are intimidated on their way to worship, when Mosque doors are blocked, community centers and Halal stores desecrated with graffiti, Muslims are denied their basic rights and dignity.
“Such protests betray our nation’s promise of religious freedom and are a disgrace to our nation’s commitment to free speech. I hope those communities who are targeted this weekend know that Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Atheists and people of all backgrounds and belief stand with them against this hatred and bigotry.”
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, shared a similar message.
“As a Jew whose people throughout history have experienced religious persecution and as an American whose country was founded by those seeking refuge from such persecution, we celebrate the right of people of all faiths to worship freely,” he said.
“We urge all people of goodwill to condemn efforts to inhibit the ability of Muslims, or people of any faith, to gather peacefully in prayer. Instead, let us stand together to build an America that is safer and stronger for all because of our commitment to the religious liberty of all.”
Shoulder to Shoulder is a coalition of 31 religious denominations and organizations committed to ending anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.
Founded in November 2010, Shoulder to Shoulder works not only on a national and denominational level, but offers strategies and support to local and regional efforts to address anti-Muslim sentiment. (T/P006/R03)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)