These People Are Fighting Anti-Muslim Hate After San Bernardino
By Jaweed Kaleem
"ISIS wants to create a division between Christians and Muslims."
Following last week's mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, which was carried out by Muslims who FBI officials say were Islamic State supporters, American mosques and Muslims have been hit with threats and attacks.
That includes a severed pig’s head being discovered in front of a Philadelphia mosque, a food store owner in New York City being attacked by a man who said he would "kill Muslims," and a man breaking in to and vandalizing the Islamic Center of Palm Beach in Florida.
Yet, amid the onslaught of vitriol being directed at American Muslims that civil rights group say began picking up after last month's terrorist attacks on Paris and several politicians' statements against Muslim refugee resettlement, many Americans are coming together to protect and support the Islamic community.
In other words, despite presidential candidate Donald Trump saying on Monday that he wants to indefinitely ban all Muslims from coming to the U.S., there are plenty of Americans eagerly standing beside the nation’s nearly 3 million Muslims.
Houston, Texas -- Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church
Dozens of the church's members rallied on Friday in support of its neighboring mosque, the Clear Lake Islamic Center, holding signs saying "love thy neighbor no exceptions" and "we support our Muslim neighbors."
"It’s important to stand on the side of respect and love and tolerance," the Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, told the Associated Press. Ibrahim Ezghair, associate imam at the mosque, called the event "a really nice gesture."
Los Angeles, California -- Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley
After a prayer service on Friday, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department and federal officials talked to the community about the San Bernardino attacks and how they can help people of all religious backgrounds stay safe in the area. The event included Muslim law enforcement officials, such as Sgt. Mike Abdeen from the department’s community relations unit.
"Law enforcement reached out to us and asked if they could address the community to ensure them that they are protected like all American and to not feel afraid of backlash," mosque member Ali Jakvani told The Huffington Post. "In times when Muslims are being attacked in retaliation to the killings in San Bernardino, I’m glad to see people standing up for the Muslim community."
Lynwood, Washington -- "Love in a Time of Fear"
In Lynwood, north of Seattle, Christians and Muslims are planning to hold an interfaith event called "Love in a Time of Fear" at Trinity Lutheran Church on Dec. 14.
"We put together this event in hopes that we could push back on this cycle of fear that could go out of control on us," pastor Terry Kyllo of Catacomb Churches told local news outlet KOMO. "The Christian community, and especially the Lutheran and Episcopal community, have a responsibility to stand with Muslims at a time when increasingly they are being scapegoated."
Nationwide -- Jewish Voice for Peace
During each night of Hanukkah, which began Sunday, Jewish Voice for Peace members plan to gather in different American cities, where they will hold signs shaped like a menorah in order to declare their stand against Islamophobia and their support for refugees.
The actions kicked off in New York City and will continue throughout the holiday in Miami; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Portland, Oregon; Durham, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle; Atlanta; Boston; Ithaca, New York; Springfield, Massachusetts; Denver and Providence, Rhode Island.
Fargo, North Dakota -- Muslims and Friends Against ISIS
"Fargo/Moorhead Muslims and Friends Against ISIS," a Facebook group two friends launched on Saturday after discussing tensions in their community over Muslims, gained nearly 800 members by Monday night.
The group has become a meeting spot for locals to not only vent about anti-Muslim fervor, but to figure out ways to combat it.
"ISIS wants to create a division between Christians and Muslims where what I want to do is to create a unity, a solidarity, where we can all voice the same concerns and stand up to these inhumane acts," co-founder Shinwar Mayi, a Muslim who immigrated to the U.S. from Kurdistan 24 years ago, told WDAY.
Muslims United For San Bernardino
A campaign on LaunchGood, a Muslim-run crowdfunding website, has raised more than $64,000 since Dec. 3 for the San Bernardino community. The money will go toward funeral expenses and long-term recovery for the area, including the Inland Regional Center, where the shooting happened.
"We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us, and send a powerful message of compassion through action," reads the campaign page. "Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: 'Have mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens (God) will have mercy upon you.' And the Quran teaches to 'Repel evil by that which is better’ (41:34).'"
Washington, D.C. -- Shiite Anti-ISIS March
In another Muslim-led action, hundreds of of Shiites in Washington, D.C., turned an annual spiritual march into an anti-Islamic State rally on Friday. Muslims in the march gave passersby hot chocolate and doughnuts and engaged them in conversation, The Washington Post reported. They also carried signs reading, "Muslims against ISIS" and "American Shia Muslims stand with the victims of San Bernardino."
Marchers wore black to mourn the deaths in San Bernardino as well as Imam Husain, a relative of the Islamic prophet and the spiritual leader of Shiites who were martyred in the year 680.