Citizens Act Locally to Support Muslim Neighbors

September 13, 2001

Source: Portland Press Herald

On September 13, 2001, The Portland Press Herald reported that "Muslims in Portland received an outpouring of community support Wednesday - a day when many feared they would be targeted for harassment, violence or worse. Community leaders made a public plea Wednesday to guard against potential acts of prejudice, hatred and violence toward Maine's Muslim population in the wake of Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. Nearly 500 people gathered on the steps of City Hall Wednesday for an interfaith show of sympathy for the victims and support for Maine's 2,000 Muslims, who braced for a backlash after federal authorities said the prime suspect in the attacks is Islamic extremist Osama bin Laden." The article continued, "City leaders and clergy set a tone of respect and understanding at the City Hall vigil. 'I ask everyone to use this horrible tragedy to bring our community together,' said Ethan Strimling, director of Portland West, a local social service agency. 'I ask everyone to use this horrible tragedy to recognize the prejudice within your hearts and wash it away...I ask everyone to use this tragedy as a stepping stone, not to accusing your neighbor, but to getting to know them better.' Tom Ewell, director of the Maine Council of Churches, said, "We stand together, shoulder-to-shoulder, as Jews, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Ba'hai and adherents of other religious traditions. In this time of crisis we are joined simply by our common humanity in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of yesterday's attack.'"