The Bay Area Mosque Coalition organized “Stand Together in Solidarity,” an inspirational evening in support of the 36 families of the mass shooting victims–14 who died– at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, December 2, in an attack inspired by Islamic extremism.
“Depriving someone of life is the greatest form of injustice. The Qur’an holds high the sanctity of life.” wrote the Bay Area Mosque Coalition in a public statement. “It teaches us that whosoever slays one innocent person is as if he has killed all of humanity. We love our faith. We love the moderation and inclusiveness of Islam that embraces all. And so we feel deep hurt whenever violence is committed in the name of Islam.”
The evening event, hosted by the Muslim Community Association (www.mcabayarea.org) in Santa Clara on December 16, was a show of solidarity to bolster the resolve of Bay Area political and interfaith religious leaders to pursue peaceful relationships among all Americans, regardless of religion or ethnicity or any other difference.
“Salaam alaikum! Peace to you!” MCA President Fouad Khatib said, welcoming attendees. Brief remarks followed by Bay Area Imam Tahir Anwar; San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo; San Jose Vice Mayor Rose Herrerra; First Unitarian Church of San Jose Senior Minister, the Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones; the Rev. Andrew Kille with the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council; Peace United Church of Christ, Santa Cruz, Pastor Dave Grishaw-Jones; Ro Khanna, former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce; and Ahmad Rafah, representing U.S. Congressman Mike Honda.
Kansen Chu, California Assemblymember for District 25, drew applause when he addressed the issue of gun control, saying, “January 4 in Sacramento, you can count on me to make sure that in the state of California, we have more sensible gun control.”
The presenters pledged to strengthen outreach between Muslims and non-Muslims. They stressed that no one should live in fear of personal injury because of what their name is or what they wear. They vowed to stand united in diversity, emphasizing that America is strong because of, not despite, its diversity.
Refreshments were served before and after the speakers, giving the more than 500 attendees the opportunity to mingle. Taj Noori, a board member of the West Valley Muslim Association in Saratoga, and her husband, Qamar Noori, a retired marine biologist, were among those at the event. The couple had recently served two years in the Peace Corps in Zambia, teaching fish farming.
“We’re here to support unity and show that we are all one. We are all Americans,” said Taj Noori. “I came here at 22 or 23. I’ve been in this country almost all my life, and I love it. My children and grandchildren grew up here.”
“I’ve been here for 22 years,” said Dr. Mohammed Nadeem, member and past president of MCA.
“My four kids were born in Santa Clara. This is their home. There is no ‘back home’ for them. Back home is not Pakistan or India. So we all have to live in peace and harmony.”
“We stand together with our fellow citizens of all faiths and all races in rejecting extremism and in protecting the harmony of our diverse society. We pray to God to protect us all in our diversity, and strengthen our resolve to stand up to all injustices,” concluded the statement issued by the Bay Area Mosque Coalition.