Interfaith group stands with Muslim community, response to political rhetoric

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Today people of all faiths gathered at the Logan Islamic Center to show their support for the Muslim community.

As members of the faith arrived at the center for Friday prayer, they were greeted by people holding signs with messages of welcome and acceptance.

“We really appreciate that the community is showing us their support and standing with us,” said Adam Alrowaiti, the president of the Logan Islamic Center committee. “After the statement of Donald Trump about preventing Muslims to immigrate, we’ve had a lot of support from other religions and the community and we really appreciate that.”

The event was organized by the Utah State University Interfaith Initiative and promoted by the Latter-day Saint Student Association, the Community of Good and the First Presbyterian Church of Logan among many others groups. According to Bonnie Glass-Coffin, the adviser for the Interfaith Initiative, this is exactly what the group hopes to promote.

“The goal of coming together is to show support for Muslims in Cache Valley,” Glass-Coffin said. “And to extend the mission of the USU Interfaith Initiative, which is to build bridges across faith communities and to create an environment of community, respect and appreciation for difference. We want to serve the common good, which is not being served by the current political rhetoric. There are a lot of people who have been hurt by it. So we’re coming together to show support.”

For those involved, sending a message of love and support was a shared goal.

“I want them to feel loved and accepted because they’re nice people,” said Eden Cope, a member of the Interfaith Initiative. “Most of them have nothing to do with these events going on. They just want to live their lives in peace and practice their religion. So I want them to feel welcome.”

“We want to help people feel like they have the right of religious expression,” said Emily King, the campus relations secretary of the LDSSA. “We want them to know that we care too. Not just the Interfaith Initiative, but people in the Institute and from LDSSA want them to feel loved.”

Many in attendance felt it was important to show the community that they do not agree with the anti-Muslim political rhetoric which has been widely discussed throughout the media. According to David Tauber, a member of the Interfaith Initiative, the best way to counter the negative words of influential people is to speak out together.

“When politicians say things such as ‘we should put Muslims on a list’ or ‘we shouldn’t let any Muslims into the country’ this isolates a very important part of our community,” Tauber said. “We want to show that while some politicians take these unacceptable stances, we support our Muslim friends and neighbors.”

As the event drew to a close, many expressed their gratitude for the outpouring of love and support.

“Demagogues don’t define what it is to be American. They don’t define what it is to be religious,” Eric Thalman told the crowd as he stood with his wife Aiya Sakr, thanking them for their support. “We’re better together. All of you have sent a powerful message of community and love.”

— katherinetaylor@aggiemail.usu.edu


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