Befitting Tribute to Victims of Mass Shooting
By Tahir Ali
Photos by Rashid Ali
Worcester: The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester along with the area Muslim community organized and successfully executed an interfaith prayer/vigil to condemn the attacks in San Bernardino and to pray for the victims and their loved ones. Dr Khalid Khan Sadozai, ISGW president who spearheaded the effort had earlier on Friday, along with ISGW trustee Dr Ahab, been interviewed by TV Channel 3. The 6 and 10 PM evening news carried the interviews, consequently drawing over 100 Worcester residents and almost an equal number of area Muslims in front of Worcester City Hall. The event was also covered by reporters from Telegram & Gazette, Masslive, WBZ1030 AM radio and others. The links are included below.
Spokesperson for both Islamic centers - Tahir Ali - called for a moment of silence and pointed out the significance of reading passages from the Qur'an in times like these. Consequently, Surahs Al-Nisa Ayat 1 and Al-Hujraat verse 13 were recited in Arabic by Dr Amjad Bahnassi, ISGW Trustee and translated in English by Maleeha Sadozai.
Dr Khalid Sadozai in his welcome speech thanked everyone present including Congressman Jim McGovern. Entrepreneur and former past ISGW president Dr Mansoor Khan gave the main speech which was very thoughtfully written and effectively delivered. "Terrorism has no religion, face or value," Khan asserted. "It has a dark agenda and is made up of thugs and killers."
Dr Yaser Najjar, president Worcester Islamic Center, also welcomed the community and in relation to 'the American dream' he recalled how he came to America with only $1000.00 and a suitcase, and now he is a Dean of Graduate Studies at Framingham State College. Representative Jim McGovern praised the organizers and stressed the need of such forums. "It is important that we gather in forums like this because it demonstrates that we all are brothers and sisters and we all speak with one voice when we say we condemn the terrible violence of not only San Bernardino and of Paris and of so many other places across this world," Congressman McGovern said.
Dr Amjad Bahnassi, a psychiatrist and originally from Syria, talked about the Syrian refugee dilemma created by politicians running for office.
Dr Saleem Khanani, Chairman Interfaith Committee of ISGW, thanked the interfaith community and attributed much of his success as an oncologist to his Christian and Jewish friends. He prayed for the victims. He introduced and welcomed John Savard of Holy Cross, Rabbi(s) Aviva Felman and Valerie Cohen of Beth Israel Temple. Khanani invited them to speak on behalf of their religious affiliations.
The Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, president of the College of the Holy Cross, applauded those who participated in Worcester's interfaith service Sunday for the victims of the California shooting.
Dr Khalid Khan again thanked everyone for attending the memorable event that served as a befitting tribute to the victims and their families.
I addressed the audience once again and added that although I wanted to sing the US national anthem in the beginning but now that we are on the same page it will make more sense to sing it now, so those who know the words please sing along with me, those who don't hum along. Thus the event concluded rather gracefully by all singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."