Interfaith community joins Muslims in Silver Spring vigil for San Bernardino victims
Silver Spring, Md. (ABC7) —
As the call to prayer echoed across the grounds of the Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring Friday night, a unique gathering was taking place.
"True Islam is a very peace-loving religion," says Shahan Rizvi, of the Howard County Muslim Council.
Religious leaders, and people of all faiths, came together to condemn the gun violence in San Bernardino.
"I want to stand in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters," declared Robert Harvey, Rector at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior. "People of faith want to stand up against the prejudice and paranoia that's infecting our country right now."
Dozens of candles were lit, as speaker after speaker voiced anger and concern about the attack Wednesday that killed 14 people, and left 21 injured.
"We are joining our fellow Americans, including the American Muslim community, in expressing our horror and outrage of this brutal attack," said Lubna Ejaz, the community center president.
But there was also an emphatic message here: that radical Islamic militants, are not part of the Muslim faith.
"These folks that are falsely creating a jihad under the name of Islam, they're not Muslims, plain and simple," Rizvi says. "They are hiding under the disguise of religion."
Those attending this vigil,organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, say that Islam's core value is about loving and caring for others.
"Fear is spreading and fear causes its own wounds," says Reverend Lynn Strauss, from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. "What we really need is to come together and to support one another and to not let fear be our guide."
Rizvi says Muslim leaders need to reach out to the community and other faiths; even get involved in politics.
"Folks are really tired of us just denouncing and comdemning," he says. " I think now's the time to be more in action, building those interfaith bridges."
While attendees say they hope those bridges will help stop more gun violence, some believe the nation's political leaders need to pass laws to deal with mental illness and gun control.
"Let us move together towards a solution to prevent the loss of another single life to gun violence," said Zainab Chaudry, the council's outreach director. "The courage to set aside our fears and to stand together united as one community."
"San Bernardino is the 355th mass shooting that happened this year," Rizvi says. "That has to stop."