DETROIT — In a striking display of determination to stand against hatred and bigotry, about 30 leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in Metro Detroit gathered Thursday to say that vandalism and other incidents at four mosques in the past month are attacks not only against Islam, but against all faiths.

Religious, civic and law enforcement officials met at a former mosque, the old Islamic Center of America, on Joy at Greenfield, to decry the vandalism that occurred there sometime Sunday night, and at least four other incidents in Dearborn, Detroit and Warren since late December.

“We stand together with our Muslim sisters and brothers and point to the antidote to this bigotry and vandalism: Our relationships and learning to care about each other,” said Steve Spreitzer, director of the interfaith division of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, which helped to organize the event.

The religious leaders said they are concerned that the incidents may be a sign that hatred directed at Muslims, especially since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, may be taking a new, nasty turn in Metro Detroit. The region, home to about 125,000 to 200,000 Muslims of mostly Arab and South Asian descent, has been largely immune from the vandalism against mosques that has plagued other areas of the country, particularly in the two years after the attacks, civil rights leaders and observers have said.

“I think it’s important for all of us people of faith to stand together in solidarity when we’re attacked in physical ways like this,” said Michael Hovey, assistant adviser in the Department of Education, Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs for the Archdiocese of Detroit. “We had to stand together as friends and allies to say that this is unacceptable to treat people of faith in this way.”


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