US faith leaders deliver message of support to Muslims

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SHAFAQNA – Leaders of several faiths have signed a letter delivered to Utah Islamic leaders, expressing support to them in what they say is a time of fear and misunderstanding.

“We reach out our arms to your communities and lift our voices in prayer for the well being and safety of you and your loved ones,” the letter dated Nov. 23 reads, as provided to the Standard-Examiner by Rev. Shelley Page of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden.

The letter was penned by Rev. Patty Willis, pastor at Cottonwood Heights’ South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

“Our hearts are breaking as yours are, over the tragic events of the past months and we abhor the disrespectful rhetoric that is being misguidedly directed towards Muslims,” the letter also reads.

Page said she personally delivered the letter to the Northern Utah Islamic Center in Ogden.

“This kind of public support for our Muslim neighbors feels appropriate at this time of increased fear and misunderstanding in our nation,” Page told the Standard-Examiner. “This letter was created to actively express the love and support of people of faith for our Muslim friends in faith.”

There have been no recently reported anti-Muslim incidents in Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, but Iqbal Hossain, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, told the Salt Lake City newspaper that there is a negative atmosphere, anxiety and uncertainty among Utah Muslims.

 Ogden-area religious leaders to sign the letter include Page, Rev. Gage Church (Congregational United Church of Christ), Rev. Kim James (Ogden First United Methodist Church), Rev. Monica Hall (Trinity Presbyterian Church) and Rev. Gary Haddock (Community United Methodist Church).

Below is the full text of the letter.

November 23, 2015

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters,

At this time, when messages of hate are spreading throughout our country and the world, we reach out our arms to your communities and lift our voices in prayer for the well being and safety of you and your loved ones. Our hearts are breaking as yours are, over the tragic events of the past months and we abhor the disrespectful rhetoric that is being misguidedly directed towards Muslims. The seed of disrespect often blossoms into hatred and violence. Scapegoating has no place in our society. Instead of facing real wrongs, people are maddened by imaginary ones. As people of faith, we affirm that we all belong to one another, and that the pain inflicted on one of us is felt by us all.

Our own voices echo the prayer of Imam Mohammed Mehtar of the Khadeeja Mosque in Salt Lake City, written on November 14th, 2015, that “cycles of violence come to an end. Violence and hatred is eating nations and peoples up alive, and the path to peace cannot be paved with blood. We hope for wisdom and love for humanity to prevail upon all people, so that we may all know the blessings of harmony.”

We stand by you and your families and pray that together we can help turn this atmosphere of fear to love.

In faith and hope,

Reverend Patty Willis, South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society
et al.

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