People from many faiths and belief systems turned out to show support and love for Muslims as they exited their Mosque at the end of the traditional Friday Prayer on October 24th. The demonstration was called “Stand in Solidarity” and was organized by the Oklahoma City University Women’s Interfaith Action Committee.
Just before the end of the traditional service, women walked to the women’s door as men stayed close to the door for men.
Red Dirt Report was on the men’s door side of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City building as Friday Prayer ended. Signs that read “We love our neighbors” and “Peace to our neighbors” were held up as the Muslim faithful walked by. Handshakes and expressions of love and peace were given by a large number of the Muslim men in return.
One worshiper, Ibraheem Al-Ameri, said, “When I saw the sign it felt great. These people here want you to be here. They aren’t against your faith or anything like that. It’s great.” His friend, Mahmood Alrawi, added, “Probably a lot of people in Oklahoma don’t know a lot about the Islamic faith, and this is a great way to share ideas and get to know each other.”
Another young worshiper, Khalid Al-Zubi, was very impressed and happy about the outreach from others outside of Islam. “I was really excited, actually. I wanted to be sure and get here for Friday Prayer today. It’s really good to see Oklahoma in support of Muslims.”
When asked about the media coverage of highly negative rallies against Muslims, Khalid said, “I think this is really good because a lot of people listen to the media. And so when they see other non-Muslims showing up for something like this, they question the media, which is good. If they read Red Dirt Report, then they will get an alternate view.”
Several Christian pastors participated from the United Methodist church and from the Episcopal Church.
One of the organizers was the Rev. Lori Walke, Associate Pastor at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City. She has been a part of the OCU Women’s Interfaith Action Committee from the beginning. When asked why she and the others organized this, she said, “We were looking for a way to publicly and immediately take a stand and support our Muslim neighbors in the face of such dangerous and violent rhetoric lately. And so this is our initial offering of direct support.”
Last week Red Dirt Report covered the big first public step of the committee in their challenge to hatred of Muslims. Students at Oklahoma City University handed other students green buttons that read “Friends to our Muslim neighbors. Salaam. Peace.” At the same time anyone could sign a petition of support and a big banner that was displayed on the OCU campus in days following.
Walke gave some background on their process of challenging the powerful forces of hate in Oklahoma at this time.
“The first week was a letter-writing campaign to show encouragement and support for the Muslim community. Then the students handed out the buttons and displayed the banner. So, this next step was to create a public presence. This is an ongoing thing. The next event will be on November 14th.”
OCU female students will be able to learn how to wear the hijab, a symbol of modesty and faith for some, though, not all Muslim women around the world. At that event Muslim women from Oklahoma City will also help OCU students to understand what the hijab does and doesn’t mean to some women who wear it in the Islamic Faith.