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Albuquerque coalition delivers letters of solidarity to New Mexico Muslims

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In a personalized gesture of love and solidarity with Muslim members of their community, a coalition of citizens in Albuquerque, New Mexico reached out to the Islamic Center of New Mexico on Friday by personally delivering hand crafted cards and letters of support after Donald Trump’s racist call for a ban on Muslims entering US.

Handcrafted letters and cards of support sent to Albuquerque mosque on Friday Photo: Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice

Handcrafted letters and cards of support sent to Albuquerque mosque on Friday Photo: Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice

The coalition was co-organized by Father Frank Quintana of the Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community and Susan Schuurman of Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice (ACPJ), which has dozens of member groups including Jewish Voice for Peace ABQ, Friends of Sabeel ABQ and the United Nations Association of ABQ.

The letters and cards, many adorned with hearts and peace signs, were graciously received by the Islamic Center. Imam Shafi Abdul Aziz invited the coalition to attend his Friday afternoon service at their mosque.

Iris Keltz from ACPJ told Mondoweiss Imam Aziz’s sermon was about “inclusion, pointing out the similarities between the Abrahamic religions, mentioning that Islam acknowledges the teachings of Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus as well as the Prophet Mohammed. He pointed out that the underpinnings of all the religions is the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated, all day and every day.”

Associated Press picked up the story which garnered attention in the mainstream press around the country. They reported Imam Shafi Abdul Aziz as saying the letters and cards from supporters of different faiths were “heartfelt”. He expressed thankfulness people were thinking of New Mexico Muslims:

“We always encourage dialogue, and we are happy that you are reaching out to us…

During his afternoon prayer sermon, Aziz said true followers of Islam respect human life and people of different faiths. In addition, he said it was up to Muslims to speak out against anyone who participates in terrorist attacks.

Imam Aziz denounced Trump’s remarks and stated they “only encourage more Islamophobia.”

“(Trump) doesn’t represent America. He doesn’t represent God,” Aziz said. “He doesn’t represent peace and love.”

Imam Shafi Abdul Aziz, left, of the the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque, speaks on the importance of tolerance during afternoon prayer Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. A coalition from Albuquerque's Christian and Jewish communities presented the Albuquerque mosque dozens of "letters of support" after GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump advocated the U.S. place a moratorium on Muslim immigration. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

Imam Shafi Abdul Aziz, left, of the the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque, speaks on the importance of tolerance during afternoon prayer Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. A coalition from Albuquerque’s Christian and Jewish communities presented the Albuquerque mosque dozens of “letters of support” after GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump advocated the U.S. place a moratorium on Muslim immigration. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

And Father Quintana echoed a similar sentiment, according to AP, “When Trump made those comments, most of us said we had to do something….That’s not who we are as Americans.”

Keltz told me she was keenly aware of sweeping Islamaphobia in our country,  “I knew mosques were being set on fire, pigs heads left at the door, but when I sat with friends and fellow activists in the mosque in my community, I viscerally understood how alone and targeted they felt.”

Albuquerque citizens gather together handcrafting messages of support for New Mexico Muslims

Several of the Albuquerque citizens who gathered together to handcraft personal messages of support for New Mexico Muslims

Signs of solidarity with American Muslims keep trickling in, from the large gathering of 800 New Yorkers on Thursday, to protesters disrupting Trump’s speech at a $1,000-a-plate luncheon, as well as activists marking Chanukah by challenging growing Islamophobia in the U.S., and we hope there will be many more of them.

The simple gesture of delivering these supportive cards and letters took place on very short notice after Trump’s statement. ACPJ’s co-organizer Susan Schuurman, expressed to Mondoweiss the event was “very special and they were very moved.”

This is something anyone can do anytime, either in as group or as a solitary gesture, anonymously or otherwise, to reach out to Muslims in a similar way in one’s own community, that’s why it’s so inspiring.

Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice volunteer Sharyn Kaye holding basket of solidarity cards and letters for Muslims of New Mexico – December 11, 2015 Photo: Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice

Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice volunteer Sharyn Kaye holding a basket of solidarity cards and letters for Muslims of New Mexico – December 11, 2015 Photo: Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice

The University Of New Mexico’s Generation Justice KUNM youth radio read aloud from the “love letters written in support of New Mexico’s Muslim community” as part of their celebratory “All about Love” broadcast on their Sunday program yesterday, honoring the great Indigenous, poet, activist and Native philosopher John Trudell.

Albuquerque’s Islamic Center of New Mexico has been the target of attacks in the past, their mosque was firebombed last year.

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About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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11 Responses

  1. JWalters
    JWalters
    December 14, 2015, 5:35 pm

    This is the reason freedom of speech is protected in the Constitution. Many voices with integrity and love can overcome a few conspirators with mere money and threats.

    • Marnie
      Marnie
      December 15, 2015, 12:03 am

      Amen to that.

      It’s probably also why the zionist state has no constitution, no defined borders, etc.

      How in the world can American politicians continue to betray the values of liberty, equality and freedoms that are supposedly what America stands for and that these Americans so strongly believe in and defend? God bless all who believe in love, understanding and compassion as the way.

      “Humanity is but a single Brotherhood: so make peace with your brethren”.

      “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”.

      “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

  2. susan schuurman
    susan schuurman
    December 15, 2015, 2:18 am

    Thanks for spreading awareness of this modest action. May it inspire other folks to do similar actions in other communities!

    To clarify a small point, a couple of people here in Albuquerque did say they would have participated if they had known about this action, which had been organized with very short notice, and we inadvertently due to lack of time were not able to get the word out to as many people as possible. But we are thinking of organizing a bigger event, perhaps a march, planned with enough heads-up that a large turnout can be generated.

    But considering this letter writing action was planned and enacted with less than 48 hours notice, we were thrilled with the number of people who did participate, and especially with how moved members of the mosque seemed to be about our visit and simple human gesture.

    • Ageel
      Ageel
      December 16, 2015, 11:38 am

      I just wanted to extend my thanks and gratitude to you and all those who participated in this touching event.

      PS: What you did was more than just a ‘modest action’. As an American Muslim who resides here in Houston, TX, I find myself truly humbled by what you did. I have shared this to my Facebook group, Houston Muslims Group. People like you give me hope that love will conquer hate. Peace, Shalom, Assalaamu aleikum.

  3. oneangrycomic
    oneangrycomic
    December 15, 2015, 8:29 am

    You won’t see acts of love/sanity directed towards the Islamic community on FauxNews, but they are powerful and effective despite the vile pro-Zionist MSM!

    The forces of truth and love will uncover and destroy Zionist terrorists!

  4. MHughes976
    MHughes976
    December 15, 2015, 10:29 am

    A comparable event – I’m in Venice at the moment and was reading in the local paper, as far as my poor Italian would permit, of the funeral of the only Italian victim of the Paris massacre, The headline was Religions come together for Valeria – there had been a civic funeral with Catholic, Muslim and Jewish participation, though it was not clear that the victim had been a religious person. Her family was trying, in these circumstances where a vicious circle might arise, not to turn the section of the wheel that was within their reach, which is a good intention.

  5. December 15, 2015, 10:38 am

    Thank you for you work and show of solidarity with Muslims. At the end of the day, we are all in this together in our fight against the disease of white supremacy that has contributed to untold number of suffering and deaths from its inception to this day.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      December 15, 2015, 12:25 pm

      “we are all in this together in our fight against the disease of white supremacy”

      The words “white” and “supremacy” do not appear in the article. Neither does the phrase “white supremacy”.
      What is the connection?

    • eljay
      eljay
      December 15, 2015, 1:53 pm

      || a4tech: … At the end of the day, we are all in this together in our fight against the disease of white supremacy … ||

      The article is about Islamophobia, not “the disease of white supremacy”.

      “The fight” should be against all forms of injustice and immorality – even those that aren’t “the disease of white supremacy”.

      • December 15, 2015, 2:06 pm

        #notallwhitemen #alllivesmatter #myfeelingsarebeinghurt

  6. RoHa
    RoHa
    December 16, 2015, 1:32 am

    Here’s a cunning ploy. Muslims singing Christmas carols in San Francisco.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/12/15/the-most-eye-opening-thing-ive-seen-while-at-agu15-so-far-muslimcarolers/

    Yesterday there was a girl’s choir singing carols and other Christmas songs outside my local supermarket. The audience was the mix of colours you expect in modern urban Australia. Among them, enjoying the songs, were a couple of Muslim women, wearing Hijabs.

    Not that I am surprised. I have known a lot of Muslims, and they all seemed to think Christmas was fun and not the least bit scary at all.

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