They stepped to the microphone outside the Steelton mosque one by one Tuesday night, commemorating 9/11 by wishing each other peace in the languages of their heritage.
“Peace be upon you,” the said – in Arabic, Hebrew, Latin, Bengali, German, Russian, Nigerian, Portuguese, Persian, Swahili, English, Pennsylvania Dutch.
More than 100 people – Muslims, Jews, Christians of various stripes, Unitarians, a Baha’i and a couple of Wiccans _ attended the event marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The event was sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance of Pennsylvania as an opportunity “for people of faith and good will to mourn the acts of 9/11 and to seek ways of moving forward together.”
The anniversary of the attacks “symbolizes one of the great conflicts of our day – the conflict for the soul of religion,” said Rabbi Carl Choper, alliance chairman.
Samia Malik, spokeswoman for the local Council on American Islamic Relations, said people often ask her why Muslims don’t condemn terrorism. “My question to them is, ‘Why don’t you hear us?'” she said.
Malik read aloud a religious edict called a fatwa – signed in 2005 by CAIR and more than 300 other Muslim groups and scholars – that declared “Islam’s absolute condemnation of terrorists and religious extremists.”
Suicide bombers are “criminals, not martyrs” and Muslims must cooperate with police to save lives, the fatwa stated.
In remembering those who died six years ago, Malik said, “we must also take stock of our nation’s response to this unprecedented act of terror.”
Muslim-Americans have been increasingly stigmatized since then, she said.
The Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg opened its doors before Tuesday’s gathering for an optional tour, including an opportunity to observe evening prayers. Afterward, the group made a candlelit procession around the mosque. (MORE)