Rockford religious leaders hold a vigil for victims of the Paris - – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford religious leaders hold a vigil for victims of the Paris attacks


Praying for the lives lost, November 22, Muslim leaders of Rockford held a vigil for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks.
Local religious leaders joined together to show people this type of activity is unacceptable across all religions.

The crowd took 30 seconds of silence to honor the victims of the November 13 attacks that killed more than 100 people in Paris.

Arshad Shaikh, President of the Muslim Association of Greater Rockford, stated, "I felt there was a unification of the hearts. I think it was very much a feeling of harmony in the room and understanding and sorrow."

The Muslim Association of Greater Rockford put this vigil together. Organizers wanted to mourn lives lost while also having an important discussion about the religion they practice-- Islam.

Islamic state terrorists are responsible for what happened in Paris. Local Muslims say that group is not a representation of their beliefs.

Shaikh explained, "The second largest religion in the world being ostracized in Western societies because an acronym has the word Islamic in it; it is very personal." 

Jane Eesley, Senior Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, added, "The terror actions of ISIS do not represent the main stream Islam and people of good faith who are not Muslim need to stand with Muslims in this time so Muslims do not become victims of discrimination."

Neighboring churches representing other denominations filled the mosque. They showed their support to differentiate Muslims from ISIS. They say it takes strength to stand up for what's right.

"Some people who don't know any Muslims might be suspicious when they hear a Muslim say no that's not really us but it is important for Christians to stand with religious minorities and to make it clear," Eesley explains, "So I am committed whenever I hear people do Muslim bashing I won't put up with it. I just won't." 

Supporters hope this commitment to change helps ease the way people view any religious group.

Judy Schultz, Member of Christ United Methodist Church, says, "I think that is the message we are all together wanting peace and justice and be able to live in harmony together."

The religious organizations in Rockford plan on having more interfaith talks throughout the year explaining it helps break down barriers put up by fear. 

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