(AP) -- As the nation lurches toward normalcy, religious officials in
San Francisco Monday echoed a plea for tolerance and mutual respect at a
large interfaith ceremony honoring victims of last week's terrorist
A palette of religious leaders -- from the pink
robes of San Francisco's Catholic archbishop to the dark suit of a local
rabbi -- exhorted meekness and mutual understanding.
spoke at a 7,000-capacity Bill Graham Civic Auditorium with barely an
empty seat, as hundreds more watched on a video screen in the sun-bathed
plaza outside City Hall.
The ceremony began at noon with a
Muslim call to prayer and ended nearly three hours later with "God Bless
In between, religious leaders representing
Sikhs, Buddhists, Baha'i and a half-dozen Protestant denominations urged
the audience not to succumb to inner demons of prejudice and hate.
"We cannot let our anger overwhelm us to blindly strike out against
our Muslim brothers and sisters," said Rabbi Martin Weiner of San
Francisco's congregation Sherith Israel.
investigated dozens of reported hate crimes against Arab Americans in
the days since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and
Pentagon, including dozens of threatening phone calls made to the
Islamic Society of San Francisco's mosque.
violence visited on any person or group," said Rev. Cecil Williams of
the city's Glide Memorial Church. "Violence only begs for more
Similar ceremonies were held at the University
of California, Berkeley and Santa Clara University, which lost junior
Deora Bodley when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in rural
While the religious leaders in San
Francisco spoke of forgiveness under God, several political figures
peppered their speeches with promises of retribution.
secretary of state and San Francisco resident George Schultz said the
country needs to develop "tolerance for secrecy and execution," an
apparent reference to the covert war President Bush has promised against
"The best defense is a great offense," Schultz
Though he too urged decisive retribution against those
responsible for the attacks, Gov. Gray Davis also urged audience members
that "Americans do not retaliate against their fellow Americans."
California's two senators also honored Bay Area men who may
have helped foil the plans of the hijackers of United Flight 93.
Sen. Barbara Boxer presented a U.S. flag to Paul Holm, the partner of
Mark Bingham, one of the men credited with helping to bring down the
plane before it reached its intended target.
Mark's nature to protect the weaker," said a tearful Holm, who elicited
a laugh from the audience when he described Bingham as heroic, friendly
and much like "a huge human Labrador retriever."
members hugged each other as the ceremony ended.
no excuse for me not to be here," said Cora Grimm, who took a long lunch
from her job at the federal Department of Health and Human Services to
attend the service. "I wanted to hear more words about tolerance and
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