People of different faiths gathered in front of the Islamic Center yesterday to express support and censure the violence that the center has suffered in recent days.

“When you hurt, we feel the pain, too,” said Rabbi Jerome S. Gurland, one of several local religious leaders who addressed the crowd of more than 150 people.

The vigil was a show of solidarity with the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts, whose center recently was the site of three attacks and threatening phone calls.

Islamic Society president M. Saleem Bajwa welcomed all. “This gives us a feeling that we are not alone,” he said. “For the past 10 days, our Islamic Center has been the target of a campaign of hatred and harassment.”

He said those who vandalized the center are doing a disservice not just to the center, but to the whole community. “This is serious business, and we want (the law enforcement community) to reach to the bottom of this crime,” he said.

Islamic Center members are not angry, Bajwa said. “We are sad, and we are fearful. We are willing to live in peace,” he said. “The Islamic religion stresses peace, love and harmony.”


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