Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gainesville community shows peace and unity on September 11 anniversary |

Contrary to what the major media chose to cover, our local paper and my own personal experiences of the happenings in Gainesville Florida over the 9/11 weekend were full of positive loving meetings between the diverse Faiths and cultures that have coexisted in our town for many years. The weekend ended for me at my local Unitarian Fellowship where two Muslim families attended as guests and their children got to participate in our annual water play and the adults enjoyed our choir's performance of an Iraqi peace song and lullaby sung in Arabic. On Saturday night we attended the candle light vigil and listened to community leaders speak out in support of peace and love and community.

Community leaders at the downtown Plaza spoke for peace on Saturday evening.

Shaunita Wells holds Eli Wells as a member of Veterans for Peace lights his candle during a vigil at the Day for Peace and Unity event, sponsored by the Gainesville Muslim Initiative, at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza.

Gainesville community shows peace and unity on September 11 anniversary |
By Cindy Swirko
Staff writers
"A week of drama that focused the world's eyes on Gainesville because of a preacher's plan to burn the Quran ended Saturday night with charity, fellowship and a candlelight memorial to those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks."

Saturday afternoon many of our friends participated in a peaceful protest march lead by UF students to show public opposition of the hate speech our town has so sadly been associated with for the past several weeks.

About 300 people joined the Students for a Democratic Society to protest Dove World Outreach Center on Saturday.
Erica Brough/ Staff Photographer

On Friday evening I attended the Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope at Trinity Methodist just a block from the Dove compound

Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe speaks during the “Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope” at Trinity United Methodist Church on Friday.

This Methodist church with over a thousand members hosted an interfaith event with food and children's crafts, music and speakers from all faiths. Many hundreds of people attended (when I was there the giant sanctuary was packed). Uf has a large Muslim community from the middle east, India and Africa and Asia and many showed up dressed in their native attire. I watched a young father, a professor at UF from Pakistan, in his native robe with his middle school aged daughter dressed in a beautiful long red gown leaning on his arm, as he was interviewed by a NY news outlet. I sat on the carpet with two young women in head scarves and talked to one of them about her work at UF to become an occupational therapist. A friend's' child sat with her as she talked of her love of children and desire to work with disabled students. The local Imam read from the Koran and translated into English the story of Jesus and Mary as it is related with great reverence in the Muslim holy book that Terry Jones wanted to burn and has admitted he has never read. Do these people sound like terrorists to you? we would never have had this event or the several others attended by hundreds more people without Mr Jones so I guess some good is coming from this in Gainesville. These are the kinds of events that need to happen all over our country. They are exactly what is needed to stop the spread of Islamaphobia which is casting over a billion people like the ones I met Friday night as terrorists. They aren't and its wrong and we all need to do something about it. Form an interfaith alliance or join the one already in your town and get to know your neighbors!

Mary Bahr, Gainesville Vets for Peace

on Saturday afternoon hundreds of UF students and local residents marched to the Dove compound and protested against their hate speech. A local t shirt factory has given away 2000 Love not Dove tshirts. They started with 200 and donations have kept them going, working nights so they could do their regular orders during the day. On Saturday evening hundreds more residents turned out at the local town plaza to feed the homeless, give blood and donate books for reading instead of burning. Dozens of community leaders of all faiths spoke for peace, love and community in America before our candle light vigil with Muslims, Christians and Jews standing shoulder to shoulder in a silent remembrance of 9/11. We are all amazed and delighted at the outpouring of love and solidarity in this community this weekend and we plan to continue what has begun with Muslim Christian dialogues sponsored by local churches and Quran 101 classes from Islam on Campus and a community open house at the local Mosque. For more fact based information about Muslims, 9/11 and war read Juan Cole's blog Informed Comment. He is an expert on the Middle East married to a Lebanese woman and write and professor at U of Michigan. A few facts from that article which focuses on how the 9/11 terrorism broke Islamic Law: The attack destroyed a Mosque located in the World trade center, dozens of Muslims were killed including some who were rescue personnel. Cole says: "By the laws of classical Islam and the instructions of the Qumran, then, the September 11 act of terrorism was illegal. It is not an affirmation of Islam but a departure from its laws of war. That is why, contrary to popular belief, Muslim authorities have roundly condemned al-Qaeda’s actions in no uncertain terms. "

No comments: