Muslims hold vigil over Orlando shoot out

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SHAFAQNA – Mohamad “Jerry” Mohajer read the name of each of the 49 people killed in Sunday’s terrorist attack at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla.

The gesture was a way for those gathered at an interfaith prayer vigil held at the Islamic Society of Michiana to show support and compassion for the victims, survivors and their families. It also was a way to take a stand against extremism and terrorism conducted in the name of Islam.

Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame, said the vigil was a chance for members of the mosque to join with other community members.

It is important to show that the Muslim community is one with other Americans when it comes to compassion and grief, said Rabia Shariff. “We can’t stop asserting our identity as Americans, and we have to show our fellow Americans that we are one of them.”

Those efforts include working to educate Muslims and non-Muslims about Islam and combating extremism and continuing to work to identify people who may be radicalized. In his prepared remarks Moosa noted that the Council for American Islamic Relations encouraged members of the community to work with authorities to identify individuals who have been radicalized.

“If I see any signs and symptoms of extremism in any member of my community, I will be the first to report,” Imam Mohammed Sirajuddin said. “There are lots of people from the Muslim community who are working together with officials and the FBI since 9/11.

“Many people do not know how Muslims are working together to combat terrorism and extremism.”

The service brought members of the Jewish and Christian faith communities to the Islamic Society to take part in a display of concern for all members of the human family regardless of religion or sexual orientation. Conrad Damian noted that the Islamic, as well as the gay and lesbian communities, have faced discrimination in recent years.

“I think that the Muslim community suffers and we must stop that suffering just as we must stop the suffering of the LGBT community,” Damian said. And while holding vigils to honor victims of violence is often a draining experience, Damian said that he is not ready to give up hope.

“We must continue to strive with others who continue to strive,” he said.

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