State News

Area religious leaders show solidarity with Muslims

Posted December 11, 2015

— Ministers, imams and a rabbi prayed for unity and understanding Friday as part of an interfaith prayer service to show solidarity with the Triangle Muslim community.

The service at the Islamic Association of Raleigh attracted hundreds and was organized in the wake of recent terror attacks in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, Calif., and a call by Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to block all Muslims from entering the United States.

"We will not let hate and fear divide us," said Rev. Nancy Petty, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh. "A people of faith, as moral, ethical human beings, we cannot remain silent or invisible at the rise of intolerance, prejudice and hostility toward our Muslim brothers and sisters here in America."

Oliver Mohammed, senior imam at As Salaam Islamic Center in Raleigh, said the terrorists in France, California and the Middle East "are comprised of the worst among humanity" and shouldn't be associated with Islam.

"They have lost their human identity as well as their religious identity," Mohammed said. "No religion promotes terrorism. These heinous, criminal acts perpetrated in the name of religious belief are a shameful veil on the true beauty of our faith."

Petty cited the mass shooting at a black church in Charleston, S.C., and a Florida preacher who burned the Quran in noting that "radicalization is not limited to one faith, one people or one religion."

"The enemy in this country and in our world is not Muslims. The enemy we face as humanity is radicalization," she said. "We stand together as Muslims and non-Muslims to condemn killing in the name of any religion. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, is a religion of peace, of nonviolence and of compassion."

Rabbi Eric Solomon of Beth Meyer Synagogue in Raleigh said his grandparents faced anti-Semitism when they arrived in the U.S., so he feels a special affinity with Muslims who are now being told they likewise should stay out of the country.

"Language matters, language hurts and language can lead to violence," he said. "We stand here as a Jewish community to say ... we will not stay idly by and let anyone speak about a religious minority in any other language aside from love, respect and tolerance."

Solomon compared Friday's interfaith gathering to a living menorah, saying the Jewish holiday of Hanukah is about bringing light to darkness and that hatred and intolerance are the most pervasive darkness in the world today.

Rev. William Barber, state president of the NAACP and pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, said clergy should have united sooner to squelch the anti-Islam climate in America that has allowed Trump's inflammatory rhetoric to thrive.

"They have labored in the laboratory of racism and Islamo-phobia and fear and hate and xenophobia and now have created a Frankenstein atmosphere of hatred that is out of control," Barber said. "The issue is not so much what the hate-mongers say, but the greater tragedy would be if we would remain silent."

Nearly 300 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. so far this year, he said, and the vast majority weren't committed by Muslims.

"If we are to fear anything, we need to fear our appetite for violence," he said. "So, let us resist every stereotype and pledge to work that we might be one nation under God, indivisible, indivisible, indivisible, indivisible, indivisible, indivisible with liberty and justice for all."

As Barber repeated "indivisible," getter louder with each word, he and other clergy joined hands, and they then held a moment of silence.

Mohamed AbuTaleb, imam of the Islamic Association of Raleigh, said the gathering filled him with hope that the voices of intolerance will be drowned out.

"We choose compassion over hate, we choose understanding over division, and we choose community over going our separate ways," AbuTaleb said.

Mohamed Elgamal, chairman of the Islamic Association, said the gathering is but the first step toward tolerance and understanding.

"Sometimes, people don't believe you unless you build relationships, human relationships," Elgamal said. "I think that comes by talking, communicating and sharing things, sharing food, sharing thoughts, sharing love."

"I'm really proud how the Triangle community comes together for its unity and diversity and the way it comes together in these challenging and sometimes unpleasant times," said Imran Aukhil, spokesman for the Islamic Association.


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  • Hal Price Dec 13, 2015
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    Back at cha doreenda

  • Hal Price Dec 13, 2015
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    Ain't that sweet. Can't we all just get along? Can't we co-exist? It is astounding to see people, mostly leftists that are so elitist in their education fields such as religion falling for such lies. GO TRUMP!!!

  • Greg Klayton Dec 12, 2015
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    Heather, the fact that these "people of peace" equate mass killings by people who may have been brought up in the Christian faith as equivalent to radical Islamists indicates that they are merely using this event for political gain. This is a sham.

    McVeigh and Roof never yelled "Christ is Good" or "Praise to be Christ". If anything these American radicals had absolutely no religious motives. McVeigh may have had political motives, but there is no evidence what so ever he was religious in any way.

  • Heather Garrabrant Dec 12, 2015
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    I applaud area religious leaders supporting each other in these difficult times. I am troubled that Rev. Petty implied that the Dylan Roof shooting was an act of "Christian extremism". While he did murder Christians in their church, there has been no reported evidence that Dylan Roof himself affiliated with any religion. The same implication about Timothy McVeigh happens often. He identified himself as agnostic in his writings; his act was not done in the name of religious extremism. I am also troubled that Rev. Barber cites the "over 300 mass shootings" statistic that has been in the news lately. Looking at the report itself, you see that the group's definition of mass shooting skew those numbers inappropriately high for that category. FBI statistics site a dramatically lower number than that. Gun violence is too high, but that mass shooting statistic and the "christian extremism" examples by these leaders are erroneous and misleading, which does not aid in promoting peace.

  • Sal Lee Dec 12, 2015
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    Did anyone ever notice that the "good" Reverend gets around without a hitch using traditional transportation when he wants to but whenever he's arrested at a protest at the State Capital he needs a $2000 ambulance ride to transport him the three blocks to county jail for booking? Hmmmm, those tax dollars to pay for that ambulance are coming from somewhere and it sure won't be from politicians and their cronies and billionaire buddies but from the dredges of the budget that handles such matters such as schools, indigent medical care, mental health, etc. Yep the Reverend true to form is going to make sure he gets his no matter who has to suffer as a result.

  • Alex Stephens Dec 12, 2015
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    Why did they leave out the Wiccans?

  • Sal Lee Dec 12, 2015
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    So in order to show total rejection of radical or extremist speech in Mosques and their support of Mosque attendees reporting to the authorities anyone who engages in or encourages such speech those religious leaders will come out today in support of the Imam in Texas who was forced out of his Mosque and is receiving threatening phone calls and texts from his fellow Muslims for supporting a temporary halt to non citizen Muslim's travel to this country until we can make the vetting process more secure. Ha ha ha ha ha!!!! Ooops, what was I thinking?

  • Dorinda Hayes Dec 12, 2015
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    FU big sportsfan and half the people on here. Bunch of racist narcissists. Go back and read the inscription on the statue of liberty. This country is supposed to have freedom of worship, and all you hear is people screaming 2nd amendment, but then from the other side of the mouth, it is take away religious freedom. For all you who think everybody had to be Christian and white, take a long walk off a short pier. As far as immigrants, you will all starve when they go back, because people like you guys are not going to go out to gigantic farms and pick our food. Unless you are an indian all of our ancestors are immigrants. White man just thinks he is so much better than all, but God is no respecter of persons. We came here, took food assistance and then turned around and slaughtered the very ones that helped us, so again Fu to a lot of people on here.

  • Hamilton Bean Dec 11, 2015
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    Then these "religious leaders" have chosen to dance with the devil...

  • Roscoe P Coltrane Dec 11, 2015
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    They are not home grown. They may be home bred, but not at all home grown, which is a very widespread term. If you right side leaning, 3 kids and a wife? or 3 kids and a husband families cannot see things more clearly, What can be said, to curb you for distrust of America?