Bahai News -- Daily Herald - Religious groups unite for vandalized mosque

Religious groups unite for vandalized mosque

By Beth Sneller Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted March 17, 2003

There were almost as many religious groups as there were people attending a solidarity vigil at the Islamic Foundation in Villa Park Sunday.

Muslims, Lutherans, Catholics, Zoroastrians, Baha'is and Wiccans were just a few of the groups represented at the vigil, which was organized by the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions in response to a vandalism incident at the Villa Park mosque Tuesday.

"It was people looking at someone and not liking the way they looked, and jumping to their own conclusions," said Anya Cordell of Evanston, founder of the social action group Campaign for Collateral Compassion. "We have to really stand against that."

Muslims were praying inside the mosque Tuesday evening when two loud bangs rang out. Witnesses said the noise sounded like gunfire.

A double-paned window on the north side of the building was left with two holes, although Villa Park police said there was no evidence the holes were made by bullets. Police said they didn't characterize the incident as a hate crime.

But Islamic Foundation members did, and they called for all faiths to band together against ignorance and intolerance. Sunday's vigil outside the mosque was the culmination of that effort.

"We have to tell others that hate never wins," said Mazher Ahmed, vice president of the Batavia Islamic Center and a trustee for the Chicago council.

Yet the vigil wasn't just about solidarity between the races - at least not for some of those who attended. As two busloads of Muslims left the mosque Sunday afternoon for the anti-war rally in Daley Plaza, other anti-war activists stayed at the vigil, holding signs with messages like "Imagine Peace" and "No Blood for Oil."

Among the nearly 100 people who attended the vigil were a contingent from Northwest Suburban SUSTAIN, or Stop U.S. Tax-Funded Aid to Israel Now. The group's purpose is to support the Palestinian movement, but members said they were at the vigil to support victims of hate crimes, as the Muslims at the Islamic Foundation are believed to be.

"We believe an attack on one is an attack on all," said Kevin Clark of Palatine, coordinator of Northwest Suburban SUSTAIN.

©Copyright 2003, Daily Herald (Chicago, IL, USA)

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