Love and peace overcome hatred in Albuquerque.
Last week, some nut threw a Molotov cocktail at the Islamic Center of New Mexico. His action was caught on security cameras. He caused minor damage but his hateful message of intolerance spurred an outpouring of love and peace in response. Within hours, the New Mexico Conference of Churches issued a statement:
“Christians across our state reject such hate-based violence,” said the statement. “We recognize our Muslim brothers and sisters as fellow children of God and as our neighbors whom we are called to love.”
Susan Schuurman, Coordinator at the Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center, put out a call to friends and activists to march to the Islamic Center to show solidarity and support for our Muslim brothers and sisters, thinking maybe 20-30 people might come.
A number of groups joined her call, including the Albuquerque Chapter of United Nations Association, Jewish Voices for Peace, Stop the War Machine, Stop 30 Billion to Israel, and ANSWER Coalition —- and easily 200 to 300 people appeared to march about 1/2 mile to the Islamic Center.
I was struck by the banner hanging at the entrance of the Islamic Center. I heard this same message from many friends in Gaza – “A good Muslim must embrace the other traditions and prophets.” I wonder what religious tradition, if any, the angry Molotov cocktail terrorist follows.
Members of the Islamic Center greeted us and then we sat in the courtyard awaiting many others following behind —- old and young —- many carrying candles and flowers.
I was really pleased to see my UNM Arabic teacher – Christopher Adam – introducing speakers and moderating the short presentations.
Sally McMillan shared a statement from the Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice.
As groups and individuals working for peace and justice in Albuquerque and the world, we are deeply concerned and saddened by reports of an attack on the Islamic Center of New Mexico last week, and we send our love and support.
We deplore the prejudices prevalent in our society that lead to such hateful acts, and we pledge to do our best to confront violence and the misconceptions that lead to violence. Many of us have visited your Center and have worked with you in efforts to improve the lives of all people in our community and to show how our common humanity unites us all, both locally and around the world.
We are with you during this time of distress and we offer our help in any way that may ease the pain and educate the community to the blessing that you are among us.
Joan Brown, a Catholic Franciscan Sister from Rochester, Minnesota (my hometown) and Executive Director of New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light working to educate the community about climate change, shared the Prayer for the Decade of Nonviolence.
I bow to the sacred in all creation.
May my spirit fill the world with beauty and wonder.
May my mind seek truth with humility and openness.
May my heart forgive without limit.
May my love for friend, enemy and outcast be without measure.
May my needs be few and my living simple.
May my actions bear witness to the suffering of others.
May my hands never harm a living being.
May my steps stay on the journey of justice.
May my tongue speak for those who are poor without fear of the powerful.
May my prayers rise with patient discontent until no child is hungry.
May my life’s work be a passion for peace and nonviolence.
May my soul rejoice in the present moment.
May my imagination overcome death and despair with new possibility.
And may I risk reputation, comfort and security to bring this hope to the children.
Imam Shafi and Abdul Rahman Emawy (President of the ICNM) each expressed their gratitude for the community’s support. “We are one!” was their message that resonated with me.
I was very moved by it all and grateful that I live in a community that responds so beautifully with love and compassion. I’m putting Sister Joan’s prayer into my purse to carry with me to Gaza.
Thank you Susan, and to everyone who made this event so meaningful.