By Ben Allan
On Friday, October 24, several hundred Muslims in a pre-Ramadan prayer session were joined by 50 or so non Muslims at the mosque on Jones Street in San Francisco. The meeting of Muslim and non Muslim (Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Unitarians, Jews and Buddhists) was part of an on going relationship between Pine United Methodist church and Reverend Oda, and the SF Mosque and Imam Suleiman Ghali. The ties between the mosque and church have been in the process of development for a number of months.
The We Are One, Community Action Alliance, a member of the Blue Triangle Network, has been promoting and encouraging relationships between mosques and churches, temples, etc., and between Jones Street and Pine United Methodist, as an example, that if developed and emulated broadly, could create conditions for a more effective social resistance to the racial profiling, harassment and repression of the Muslim community under the so-called ‘war on terror’.
After the initial prayer meeting, Rev. Oda presented a check from the Pine United Methodist Church to Suleiman Ghali of money raised to pay for the repair of a door broken in an apparent hate crime. Suleiman accepted this check in front of several hundred from the Jones Street congregation and many of the mosque members were clearly very moved by this.
After the prayer session there was a social gathering and press conference. We Are One members Samina Faheem Sundas Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice, Matt Van Suan from Amnesty International and Ben Allen from Blue Triangle lead a discussion about the goals of “We Are One” and plans to oppose "special re-registration". Observations by Suleiman Ghali helped to clarify the importance of the gathering--when he noted that General Boykin, a top Pentagon operative, has been visiting churches to promote his brand of anti-Muslim slanders, rarely challenged in the media, while in Asia a Muslim leader erroneously characterized the struggles in the world as one between rival religions. The atmosphere created by demagogues cloaking political differences behind a religious veil, is very dangerous. What better way to combat this enforced ignorance and bigotry than for people from many religions to unite to declare their intention to build unity based on the principals of mutual respect and justice.
One of the people gathered reminded Sulieman about how members of non Muslim religions requested to become members of mosques around the time when the FBI was making it known that it was going to do their intrusions into the mosques. Sulieman said that many people had requested to become members but that the mosque had not been prepared to deal with this but changes in internal bylaws of the mosque are facilitating this process. As was pointed out, the advantages to this are great. Not only does it complicate the work of the repression but it creates a list of potential supporters if repression does come down, This is the kind of initiative that We Are One supports!
The October 24 event demonstrated the potential for bringing communities together to wage a common fight against oppression. This is not only important, but essential because division and fear mongering are the stock and trade of this government and a lynchpin in its program of repression and suppression to serve its policies of war and domination abroad. Without unity and the understanding and will to struggle together, we have nothing.