Will Thomas photo from an earlier rally in Concord

Dec 12, 2015 10:12 AM

Rally involving religious leaders in Manchester offers support to local Muslims

MANCHESTER — An interfaith vigil promoting peace and denouncing intolerance drew about 100 people to the Islamic Society of New Hampshire on Friday.

“We have a peaceful religion and just want to keep everybody safe. Certain people are just giving us a bad name,” Adeel Tahir, a board member of the mosque who helped organize the event, told the Union Leader. “They’re looking at all of us as terrorists and that’s certainly not the case.”

The rally comes in the wake of presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

Islamic extremists do not represent the overall faith, Tahir said. Several clergy members from other denominations joined the rally to support their Islamic neighbors.

“It’s going to have to be a steady and consistent process of education,” said Rabbi Beth Davidson of Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester.

Davidson said it was important for followers of all faiths to show support for the Islamic community and speak out against hatred and intolerance.

The Right Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, hoped the positive message spread beyond Friday’s vigil.

“We know that words matter and words have a powerful effect — for good or for ill — and that they can create and destroy a community,” he said. “As much as there is a kind of readiness to show hatred and anger, I think there is an even more holy impulse to show compassion and justice and peace.”

Members of the mosque in Manchester said they were grateful for the expressions of peace and acceptance.

“I can’t tell you what having that kind of support means to us,” said Salman Malik, one of the organizers.

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