The fight against terrorism continues in Tulsa following the attacks in Paris, Friday night.
Leaders of the All Souls Unitarian Church invited local Imam John Ederer and members of the Muslim community to its Sunday morning services.
The two faiths joined together to share beliefs that terrorism has no religion, according to the religious leaders. Christians and Muslims untied for services, Sunday after several social media comments have been circulating online stating religion is what caused the attacks in Paris. Comments went on to say people should not be embracing Muslims and the culture because their religious practices reflect extremism.
The church leaders said the best way to combat negativity and hate is with peace and understanding.
“The way forward is to work together not to demonize each other, but to find things in common and work together because really that’s the only way forward in peace. With limited resources we need to share and understand each other,” said Rev. Barbara Prose.
Prose mentioned in both English and French during the morning services that her family lives in Paris and several relatives have been impacted by the attacks.
Among the congregation is Paris native Solal Hecker and his wife Emily. Hecker was born and raised in Paris before moving to the United States.
He said his family back home is safe but is still waiting to hear from others.
“I keep thinking I may know people that may have been hurt or killed. You just don’t know. I don’t even know if that person is dead, so it’s hard. I’d like to at least know exactly, but we don’t. We don’t have the information yet,” said Hecker.
Nearly 130 people were killed during the attacks. One of them includes Emily’s colleague Mathieu Hoche.
Hecker said she and Hoche worked together at a news station in Paris. She said he was killed in a night club – one of the multiple places targeted. He leaves behind a six-year-old son.
“It’s hard to imagine something like that actually happening. So at first you think it can’t be as serious as they’re saying or surely that information is not right and there’s so much confusion. And then it started to sink in and that’s when we started to kind of panic,” said Emily Hecker.
Her husband, Solal, believes his city is on a long road to recovery, but said he and his wife will start that process together with faith.
“I think that’s part of the healing. Our initial reaction is fear and anger and hatred and then you know you have to move towards trying to have a mutual understanding and work together,” said Emily.
The couple said they plan to visit Paris as soon as they can to make sure their loved ones are taken care of.
Imam Ederer has invited anyone with questions about the Muslim faith to contact him. He said open conversations are needed to better understand the practices of the Muslim community.