Bahai News - Muslim event honors police, firefighters, paramedics
Thursday, October 11, 2001
Muslim event honors police, firefighters, paramedics
By Vess Mitev
The Daily Iowan
Muslim, Christian, and Jewish voices joined together in reciting the Pledge
of Allegiance on Tuesday night in a tribute to the victims of the World
Trade Center bombing.
The event at the IMU, sponsored by the Association of Muslims in America,
New Horizon Islamic Schools, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, honored
local firefighters, police, and paramedics to sent a message of unity to the
"We, as Muslims, reject statements from Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, who
exploit Islam for their illegitimate cause," said Salam Al-Marayati, national
director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, as two American flags hung
behind him. "It is time for American Muslims to be part of the solution, not
just bystanders." Al-Marayati said he was encouraged by President Bush's
dedication to eliminating the misconceptions surrounding Islam.
Guest speakers focused on the importance of all Americans coming together at
this time, instead of segregating. UI Student Government President Nick
Klenske, speaking to a crowd of around 150, called for the university to
join the fight by offering courses on the Islamic faith.
"I challenge the university administrators to build a community," Klenske
said. "The one thing we can do is educate people about the Islamic faith."
Other Big Ten schools like Wisconsin and Penn State offer up to seven
courses on Islam, while Iowa's single course is taught by a visiting
professor who leaves next spring, said Klenske. He added that more events
like this would raise awareness and help extinguish ignorance.
"We need to remember that we are a nation of law," said Iowa House Minority
leader Dick Myers, "and as a state, we believe in the importance of
community." Myers added that reactions of anger, revenge, and hatred needed
to be stopped before they began.
UI junior Asma Haidri, co-president of Association of Muslims in America,
said although she had read about 10 negative e-mails, she was overwhelmed
with the outpouring of support.
"I was really happy that everyone's supporting us," she said. "The turnout
was great, and I think we're really lucky to be in a place like Iowa City."
In a hushed voice, Iowa City Mayor Ernie Lehman said that making sense of
the events remains up to the individual, and that honoring those that died
is a high priority.
"Those firefighters and police officers didn't know if they were going in
there for Jews, Muslims, Christians, white people, or black people," he
said. "They went in there to get people, and that's all we are. We're
The chiefs of local FBI, public safety, fire and police departments were
honored. They were presented with a plaque and a rose from the American
Muslim community. Afterward, prayers were read from the Bahai, Jewish,
Catholic, and Islam religions. Donations were collected for the American
In his final address, speaker Al Aly reminded the crowd the strength of
America lies in its diversity.
"I'm a Muslim American. My best friend is a Christian, and all the letters
of recommendation I've gotten have been from Jews. Where else in the world
can you do that?"
E-mail DI reporter Vess Mitev at: firstname.lastname@example.org
©Copyright 2001, The Daily Iowan
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