More than 1,700 people attended an interfaith service at Temple Israel of Boston Friday evening to hear messages of unity on the eve of the controversial “Boston Free Speech” rally.
“What unites us is always stronger than what divides us,” Attorney General Maura Healey told the crowd.
Healey was among the public officials and clergy to promote inclusion and reject bigotry during the hour-long gathering planned by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization.She said the acts of hatred that were on display during the past week in the US were not only lawless but also “godless,” and criticized President Trump for his response to the violent demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., that attracted white supremacists. Trump blamed “both sides” for that violence.
“Anyone who struggles to denounce white supremacy or Nazism does not deserve to be president of the United States,” she said, drawing a standing ovation.
After the bloodshed in Charlottesville last weekend, local authorities fear Saturday’s free speech rally could draw white supremacists. More than 500 police officers will monitor the rally, and a counterprotest is expected to draw tens of thousands. The organizers for the free speech rally have maintained that the event is not a forum for hate groups.
Friday’s interfaith service also came days after the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston was vandalized for the second time this summer.
The sun has set, the hiking, swimming and prayers are over and a group of kids are goofing off, taking turns telling corny jokes in the woods.
“Why did the cow cross the road?” a kindergartner yells into a megaphone in front of his fellow campers. “Because the chicken was on vacation!”
It’s a typical summer camp in Northern California, except at this camp all the kids are Muslim.
Every summer for 55 years, Muslim kids, teens, young adults and parents gather in these woods to learn about faith and have fun. It is the oldest camp of its kind for young Muslims in America. But today the camp has a different meaning for this new generation. It’s a momentary respite for the campers in a country where anti-Muslim sentiment is rising sharply.
The late Marghoob Quraishi and his wife, Renae “Iffat” Quraishi, founded it, to help new American Muslims find a sense of community.
Originally Indo-Pakistani, Marghoob ended up at Stanford University in California. His daughters say he looked around and realized that new American Muslims, like himself, needed a place to teach their kids about being American Muslims. His wife is an American Caucasian woman who converted to Islam from Methodism and grew up going to Methodist summer camp. So the couple modeled it on that.
Wajahat Ali is a political commentator, Emmy-nominated producer, playwright and attorney.
“Children, if you’re a Nazi or a white nationalist, your president will stand up for you. If you’re Muslim? Immigrant? Black? Female? Sorry, you’re on your own. Perhaps work at Trump Towers or compete in Miss Universe in order to make it. Good luck!”
I never considered saying this to my two babies, but then again I never thought a president would make moral equivalences and excuses for white supremacist terrorism. After Tuesday’s news conference, we know that President Trump believes thereare “both sides” to the tragic violence in Charlottesville that left one woman dead and 19 injured. There are apparently “many sides” to the conflict, but only one man, James Alex Fields, a Nazi sympathizer, who was charged with deliberately plowing his car into a crowd killing Heather Heyer, an anti-racism advocate. In reviewing his response to the Charlottesville tragedy, it seems Trump has different standards for different Americans: one for his base, the alt-right, and another for Muslims and people of color.
According to Trump, there were “very fine people” in the weekend rally assembled by members of the alt-right. Some of these “very fine people” included white men and women in Old Navy and Gap clothes carrying Tiki torches bought at Walmart, many armed to the teeth, shouting anti-Semitic and racist slogans and lifting their arms in Nazi salutes. Even though they chanted, “The Jews will not replace us!”, I’m sure they’ll give a pass to the president’s Jewish grandchildren. These misunderstood men are nuanced, sophisticated and generous. They deserve careful restraint in denouncing them.
Most Americans are worried about Islamic extremism, and most Muslim Americans share these concerns.
About eight-in-ten U.S. Muslims (82%) say they are either very (66%) or somewhat concerned (16%) about extremism committed in the name of Islam around the world, about the same as the share of the general public that feels this way (83%), according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Only about one-in-six U.S. Muslims (17%) and Americans overall (15%) say they are “not too” or “not at all” concerned about extremism carried out in the name of Islam worldwide. Among both groups, concern about extremism is up 10 percentage points since the Center’s last survey of U.S. Muslims in 2011.
Muslim American women are particularly worried about global extremism in the name of Islam. Nearly nine-in-ten U.S. Muslim women (89%) say they are at least somewhat concerned about it, up 16 points since 2011. A smaller share of U.S. Muslim men (75%) say they feel this way.
On a rainy Wednesday night in Pakistan, thousands are transfixed by a woman named Marilyn Hickey. The crowd sways, prays and cheers as she exclaims “Jesus loves you, repent of your sins!” and “God Bless you, Pakistan!”
Hickey is an 86-year-old evangelical Christian with a worldwide television ministry based in Denver. Over the last 40 years, she has traveled to 136 countries to spread the gospel. Her special mission has been to build bridges in Muslim countries like Pakistan, Egypt and Sudan.
“These people are very open and very hungry. And I think I laid a basis for this years ago and I began to say, ‘I love Muslims and Muslims love me’,” Hickey says.
She invited “CBSN: On Assignment” to join her on her eighth visit to Pakistan in July. Correspondent James Brown traveled with Hickey on the 20-hour trip that began in New York, stopped briefly in Dubai and landed in Lahore at 3:30 a.m. local time, two days later.
Brown asked Hickey why she’s been so accepted in Muslim countries. Hickey responded, “I think it’s a God thing. Years ago, I started praying over every country in the world, every day. And when I would hit the Muslim countries — I had such a warm feeling for them.”
When she arrives in Lahore, she is greeted like a matriarch by members of a local Christian church. The parishioners give her flowers, hug her and call her “mom.”
Despite the greeting, Hickey says she likes to keep things a little bit low key. “I don’t want to draw attention. I want to look very simple, very harmless. Here’s some lady, you know, she’s stupid, she’s a woman, she’s old, what can she do? And you get to do everything. I don’t want to look big, but I do advertise big. When I get in the country, I do big time advertisement.”
Pastor Anwar Fazal is hosting Hickey’s visit. He’s like the Billy Graham of Pakistan, and leads its largest evangelical church of 30,000 members. Fazal says he owes his success to Marilyn Hickey because she impacted him so deeply during her first visit in 1995. He became a Christian and followed in Marilyn Hickey’s footsteps in 2006 when he started an international TV ministry which today reaches over 200 countries.
But Nashville’s interfaith culture has not always boomed. The rise of interfaith efforts only emerged in the last 15 years, and has flourished even more recently, according to members of the local faith community. It’s a development that has united people of different faith backgrounds and, as a result, helped to repair the damage from religious tension.
Interfaith work’s entrance
Lifelong Nashvillian Rashed Fakhruddin witnessed his father help found the Islamic Center of Nashville in 12 South in 1978. Today, Fakhruddin serves as president of ICN, and his long-term involvement with the mosque allows him to observe the overarching trends that have defined his congregation and others surrounding it.
Fakhruddin tagged the early 2000s as the beginning of interfaith work’s development. He said he saw a rise in the frequency of interfaith opportunities in those years — in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, religious organizations rarely broke boundaries and coordinated. As the opportunities increased, however, the ICN community was also more prepared to represent themselves.
“All of the sudden in the early 2000s, a lot of people started recognizing who we are, where we were,” Fakhruddin said. “We had more people in leadership that were engaged and could take on more interfaith roles. It’s been wonderful.”
To illustrate this growth, Fakhruddin pointed to a rise in exchange visits between houses of worship, in educational events like panel discussions and in multi-faith collaboration on service projects. All of this, he said, began to emerge around 2010.
Larry Olson, 74, of Granite Falls, Minn., asks Dr. Ayaz Virji a question during his lecture on Islam at the Granite Falls, Minn., City Hall. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Salwan Georges
When a Muslim doctor arrived in a rural Midwestern town, “it felt right.” But that feeling began to change after the election of Donald Trump.
DAWSON, MINN. — The doctor was getting ready. Must look respectable, he told himself. Must be calm. He changed into a dark suit, blue shirt and tie and came down the wooden staircase of the stately Victorian house at Seventh and Pine that had always been occupied by the town’s most prominent citizens.
That was him: prominent citizen, town doctor, 42-year-old father of three, and as far as anyone knew, the first Muslim to ever live in Dawson, a farming town of 1,400 people in the rural western part of the state.
“Does this look okay?” Ayaz Virji asked his wife, Musarrat, 36.
In two hours, he was supposed to give his third lecture on Islam, and he was sure it would be his last. A local Lutheran pastor had talked him into giving the first one in Dawson three months before, when people had asked questions such as whether Muslims who kill in the name of the prophet Muhammad are rewarded in death with virgins, which had bothered him a bit. Two months later, he gave a second talk in a neighboring town, which had ended with several men calling him the antichrist.