My first day at work this August began with news of an arson attack on a mosque in Antioch, Calif.
Training at the San Francisco chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that day was out of the question, and the staff members were busy preparing for the press conference to take place in three hours.
I was shocked to hear the terrifying news. I vividly remember going to the Islamic Center of East Bay when my family and I used to live in Antioch four years ago. . .
Although terrible in essence, the fire indeed brought together people from all walks of life; people with different backgrounds came together and put aside their differences to find common ground in a time of rising Islamophobia, as is evident in the CAIR-SFBA Civil Rights report for 2007, which showed a 114 percent rise in hate crimes against the Muslim community from the previous year.
Various activities were planned, including a rally for peace and tolerance.
At the time of the rally, Muslims were in the midst of fasting, yet that did not hinder their efforts in joining the greater public to stand up against hate.
Public officials including Sen. Tom Torlakson, Antioch Chief of Police James Hyde, ICEB board member Abdul Rahman and numerous other representatives shared words of support and hopes for a more tolerable community.
“Our strength is not in hatred, our strength is in unity,” said ICEB president Mohammed Chaudhry. “We enjoy the same sunshine, we breathe the same air. If God doesn’t discriminate, why should we?”