PROVIDENCE — The sound of prayers in Arabic and Hebrew resounded simultaneously outside of the State House Sunday night in the name of peace and justice.
Two high school seniors — August Kahn and Danish Azam — from Providence’s Wheeler School organized the interfaith prayer service that drew roughly 40 people. Kahn, who is Jewish, and Azam, who is Muslim, said their goal was to show that Jewish and Muslim communities in Rhode Island are committed to having productive dialogue. They also said the event was intended to condemn religious extremism and intolerance.
“We want to show that there’s a group of people who are willing to foster and promote interfaith dialogue and come together to understand each other,” said Kahn, an 18-year-old from Barrington.
Azam, a 17-year-old from Warwick, said the two got the idea after watching a video online that showed a small interfaith group praying in Los Angeles. He said their goal was to draw a larger group to a public space.
They drew children, parents and the elderly to the event, which they advertised on Facebook. Tensions in the Middle East also prompted the pair to organize the event.
“Judaism and Islam are both Abrahamic religions so they share common roots. We are allies,” Azam said.
While the prayers recited were from the Jewish and Muslim faiths, the pair pointed out that some who came weren’t of either faith, but attended to show support for the dialogue.