Two people with close ties to Boston were among the speakers at a prayer vigil held Wednesday night for victims of Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings.
The vigil, hosted and sponsored by Tulsa’s Muslim community, drew about 60 people to the Al Salam mosque, 4630 S. Irvington Ave.
“I’m a Bostonian, born and raised,” said Sheryl Siddiqui, long-time spokeswoman for the Muslim community in Tulsa and across the state.
What hurt her most about the bombings, which were near the marathon’s finish line, was that the 26th mile of the race had been dedicated to the 26 people who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, she said.
“For those people, it was hurt upon hurt,” she said.
“We have a challenge before us,” she said. “To stay together, as we are in this room, to hope that warmer hearts and cooler heads prevail.”
The Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church, said the church he served before coming to Tulsa was located three blocks from the bombing.
“This had a deep emotional impact on me,” he said.
“It means a great deal to me that the Islamic community of Tulsa called us together.”
Howard Plowman, outgoing board president of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, said the bombing was “so shocking, so tragic, … it has shaken up all of our country.”
“We have people in our society who don’t have love in their hearts, and we need to pray for them, also,” he said.
Nuredin Giayash, principal of Peace Academy, Tulsa’s Islamic school, said he found the people of Boston kind and friendly on a visit there years ago.
“As a Muslim, I would condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “Such crimes are hard for any individual or family to bear. Satan is the enemy, the one who causes such actions.”
David Bernstein, community relations director for the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, reiterated remarks he said he made after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“Today, I am a Muslim, because I know how Muslims feel,” he said.
At that time, he said, his grandchildren were shocked and asked why he said he was a Muslim. It created an opportunity to explain it to them.
“I know God is God of all of us,” he said. “We only had one Adam. We all go back to the same God, and that’s a wonderful thing.