Religious leaders from various faiths gathered at Temple Israel on Friday to show support for Dayton’s Muslim community and for immigrants from the Middle East.
Rabbis, reverends and representatives from many faiths took turns expressing why they decided to come together.
Local Muslims who attended the gathering said their faith is being misinterpreted when extremists carry out acts of terror. Rev. Greg Martin, from Miami Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, said several faiths teach many of the same principles.
“We have to focus on the things our faiths have in common,” said Rev. Greg Martin. “They speak about the need to combat fear with the power of love.”
Dr. Saeed Albezrhe attended the meeting with his wife Eeman Dajani and their 15-year-old daughter Jenna. Albezrhe, said he wants America’s opinion of Islam to change because he does not want it to have a harmful affect on his children.
“To be able to sit in the living room with your family, watching and listening to the negative messages that are on the airwaves is upsetting.” Albezrhe said.
Albezrhe recalled a situation where his daughter’s friend was being bullied and was called a “son of Isis.” His daughter responded to the bully with a poem.
“She said ‘I choose to be a daughter of America,’ ” Albezrhe said. “She expressed how proud she is of her identity as an American and a Muslim — she should not have to pick sides.”
Dajani said they used to shield their children from discrimination when they were younger; however, now they are teaching their children how to deal with those types of situations.
“It was important for our daughter to see all of these people working together,” she said. “It was a benefit to my husband and I as well.”
Jenna said she is optimistic about the support from Dayton’s religious community. She said prejudice is something the Muslim community will need help overcoming.
“The battle isn’t just the Muslims,” she said. “There are people with us.”
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