Remembering the Tragedy of 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Susan Schwartz, TMO

One of the most corrosive elements in our society is Islamophobia, a well funded and staffed industry which, to the surprise of no one, shifted into high gear after the tragedy of 9/11.  Muslims have been its victims, and Muslims have, through their community outreach, been its stalwart opponents. Their solution has been simple, but not easy: to persevere in the truth.

The Los Angeles area remembered and commemorated the tragedy of 9-11 that took place a decade ago. Two events were held: a Health Fair that honored first responders which took place at the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), and an ecumenical prayer service held in the historic Los Angeles down town area at St Johns Cathedral. 

The ICSC is the site of the first Masjid in Los Angeles. Saturday it played host to first responders and city officials, including keynote speaker, Kevin James, a Muslim firefighter who was at the World Trade Center when the planes struck. Mr James spoke of the first responders he worked with, many of whom were injured or killed in the line of duty.

Mr. James further said that he was puzzled when recent Muslim immigrants to the United States spoke as if being Muslims made them outsiders. He reminded his audience that Islam was a part of the America fabric and that Muslim explorers from Africa were here before Christopher Columbus. In addition, he continued, one third of the slaves brought to this country were Muslim though many were forced to adopt, albeit superficially, the Christianity of their masters.

Also honored were: Captain ll Sean W. Conway of the Los Angeles Fire Department; Reserve Chief Michael Leum of the LA Sheriff’s Department, and Officer Mike Odel of the Los Angeles Police Department. Like Mr. James, emotion cloaked their acceptance speeches as they recalled comrades injured and killed.

City Council President Eric Garcetti recalled the events of 9/11 and its aftermath. He said that in Los Angeles people seemed to be dividing and standing alone because of the tragedy. It was the ICSC and its members that wove together the tapestry that was and again could be Los Angeles. In the midst of considerable hate and suspicion, these Muslims made us all stand together.

Dr. Maher Hathout, the founder of ICSC and a man celebrated in the area by Muslims and non Muslims alike, summed up the program. He said that in the beginning of fear is the voice of courage. It tells one to enter a burning building that others are exiting. It is, he said, the voice of God.

Sponsors of the event were the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); The Islamic Center of Southern California; the UMMA Clinic, the American Muslim Health Professionals, The Council of American Pakistan Affairs; American Muslim Women’s Empowerment Council; UPLIFT, and the Guibord Center.

On Sunday September 11th an interfaith service was held at St John’s Episcopal Church. The event was sponsored by the Guilbord Center, an interfaith organization dedicated to celebrating what the different American religions have that unite them. The service was titled: Finding Hope in the Holy. Representatives of different faiths read from their holy books. Jihad Turk, the Religious Director of the Islamic Center of Southern California, spoke for the Islamic faith. Each speaker poured water into a cistern upon the completion of his or her address.

The congregants answered each spokesperson with a prayer of hope and commitment

Children born since September 11, 2001 were presented with saplings watered by the above cited cistern. These children are the hope of the future and the event was a pledge that all those who were present would work to make that future a just and peaceful one for them.

Among the co sponsoring groups was: MPAC, the South Coast Interfaith Council, The Islamic Center of San Gabriel, Progressive Christians Uniting, and the ICSC.

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Youngstown Ohio Remembers 9/11

September 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Jessica Valsi

027This year marked the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. The attacks took the lives of many, and shook the hearts of all Americans. Ten years later, the impact of those attacks echoes in lives, fears, and prayers in our communities. A large and diverse group of Youngstown community members gathered to reflect on the September 11th attacks of 2001, and to pray for peace and reconciliation. The prayer service was organized the Mahoning Valley Association of Churches and co-sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Core of Youngstown State University. Prayers were offered by Rabbi Daria Jacobs-Velde of Congregation Ohev Tzedek in Boardman, Julie Thomas of the Mahayana Tradition, Walid Abuasi of the Islamic Society of Greater Youngstown, and Rev. Bob Bonnot of the Christ our Savior Church in Struthers. Cary Dabney, president of the Interfaith Youth Core of Youngstown State University spoke, and the Youngstown Connection performance group provided musical entertainment. The event was attended by nearly 100 people of various faiths who joined in prayers and hymns together during the service. The service was held in the Butler North Church, Wick Ave., on the city’s North side.

IFYC president Cary Dabney addressed the audience with his heart on his sleeve as he appealed to the group for cooperation and reconciliation on the tenth anniversary of September 11th and every day onward.  “My grandfather told me when I was young that he had a dream that I was sitting in a room surrounded by great and honorable people. I have walked through life wondering at different times: Is this that moment? Is the moment my grandfather predicted? I know now for certain, that today is the day he dreamed about so long ago. I am so honored to be in this room with you all.”

1539246Each faith tradition took time to pray for the moral fortitude to face the world of intolerance and hatred that can at times be so overwhelming. They asked for patience, understanding, hope, and love to prosper in this time of deep sadness and reflection, and for the families personally affected by the tragic events of September 11th, 2001.

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