A show of solidarity: People of all faiths gather to support Muslim neighbors

  • Wearing hijabs, a large group of non-Muslim women joined the Islamic Society of Greater Concord for their Friday worship service. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Pat Wallace of Concord gets help styling her head scarf into a hijab before the start of Friday prayer at the Islamic Society of Greater Concord. Wallace, and a large group of other non-Muslim men and women, attended the service to show their support for the Muslim community. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Zoe Picard attends a vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities in downtown Concord after attending a worship service with the Islamic Society of Greater Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Wearing hijabs, a large group of non-Muslim women joined the Islamic Society of Greater Concord for their Friday worship service on Feb. 3, 2017. A large group of non-Muslim men also attended the service. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Basma Faiad, 12, of Concord helps non-Muslim women put on scarves in the fashion of a hijab at the Islamic Society of Greater Concord on Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Pat Wallace (left) of Concord thanks Basma Faiad, 12, of Concord for her help with the hijab before the start of the Friday prayer at the Islamic Society of Greater Concord on Feb. 3, 2017. Wallace, and a large group of other non-Muslim men and women attended the service to show their support for the Muslim community. “It was the right thing to do and the right place to be,” she said. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Wearing hijabs, a large group of non-Muslim women joined the Islamic Society of Greater Concord for their Friday worship service on Feb. 3, 2017. A large group of non-Muslim men also attended the service. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Wearing a hijab, Zoe Picard joined the Islamic Society of Greater Concord for their Friday worship service on Feb. 3, 2017. A large group of non-Muslim men and women were present. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Wearing hijabs, a large group of non-Muslim women joined the Islamic Society of Greater Concord for their Friday worship service on Feb. 3, 2017. A large group of non-Muslim men also attended the service. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Wearing a hijab, Louise Spencer joined the Islamic Society of Greater Concord for their Friday worship service. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Women worship at the Islamic Society of Greater Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Imam Mustafa Akaya speaks during a vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities in downtown Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities took place in downtown Concord on Friday afternoon. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Imam Mustafa Akaya speaks during a vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities in downtown Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities took place in downtown Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities took place in downtown Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • A vigil in support of refugee and immigrant communities took place in downtown Concord on Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

Monitor staff
Published: 2/3/2017 11:26:06 PM

As a baby blue scarf was draped around her head, Louise Spencer drew a smile. Minutes earlier that scarf had been simply an accessory, but inside the Islamic Society of Greater Concord it took on a deeper meaning, one of peace and love.

Spencer, 54, of Concord, was one of dozens of women Friday who donned the hijab – a head scarf – in support of their Muslim neighbors. She said the United States has historically been known as a place of refuge and safety for all, but that for the first time in her life, she feels the country’s basic principles are under attack.

“This is the time our generation is being called upon to stand up,” Spencer said. “I feel so strongly that we’re all being affected by the actions taken against one group of people, and we all need to come together.”

In the wake of President Donald Trump’s executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, people of all faiths and backgrounds gathered at the Concord mosque Friday afternoon in a show of solidarity. Rather than harping on human differences, they spoke about commonalities in their day-to-day lives and in their religions.

Rev. Leanne Tigert said she’s been engaged in interfaith initiatives for several years now, and reached out to the mosque’s leaders at the start of that journey. Tigert, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, said the message she shares with others is “We are one.”

“The core of our beliefs is the same,” she said, referring to Christianity and Islam. “To love God and love your neighbor.”

In times of turmoil and uncertainty, that very basic message and shared ideal can be overlooked, she said.

“I think people today are really frightened about the decisions the government is making and that they are opposed to. Those decisions are against what we believe,” Tigert said.

Under Trump’s travel ban, people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia are currently not allowed to enter the United States, though federal judges in several states have issued orders blocking the order to varying degrees.

For many non-Muslim women who attended a prayer service at the mosque Friday, the latest immigration ban was at the forefront of their thoughts.

“I’m very frightened,” said Pat Wallace, who lives in Concord.

She said that the executive order gives permission for people to hate, and is a far cry from the fundamental notion that America is a country of immigrants.

“I feel that our Muslim neighbors need all the support we can give them,” she said.

Spencer agreed, saying that inaction is not an option. She and her husband both attended Friday’s service and, after, planned to join community members downtown for a “We Are a Nation of Immigrants” vigil outside the State House.

Spencer and other women who’d never worn head scarves left them on for the vigil to continue their show of support in a more public setting.

During the vigil, people held up signs that read “ban hate, not Muslims” and “room at the table for everyone.”

One of the first speakers, Eva Castillo of Manchester, immigrated to the United States from Venezuela roughly two decades ago, and like those who had gathered at the mosque earlier that day, spoke of the need for unity.

“Silence is not a choice anymore,” she told the crowd. “Keep supporting all of us, and keep getting upset.”

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)




Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301
603-224-5301

 

© 2021 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy