Rally at Bridgeview mosque expresses opposition to travel ban

  • Written by Steve Metsch


muslim 3 photo 2-9

Photo by Steve Metsch

Rev. Adam Malak, pastor of Faith United Presbyterian Church in Tinley Park, spoke in support of Muslims impacted by the travel ban Friday at The Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview.

Representatives of various religious faiths gathered in the cold Friday afternoon outside The Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, sharing support for their Muslim brethren and their opposition to President Donald Trump’s travel ban from certain Muslim nations.

After a news conference, about 75 people formed what they called “a human chain” along 93rd Street, the south side of the mosque building, holding signs that read “We Support Our Muslim Neighbors.”

Representatives of The Presbytery of Chicago, Oak Lawn Clergy and Religious Workers Association, Alianza America and Jewish Voice for Peace joined with members of The Mosque Foundation and Muslim American Society Chicago.

Together they chanted slogans like “Love Casts Out Fear” during the rally held outside the mosque while Friday prayers were being said inside.

Mosque board member Karen Danielson said religious groups “asked if they could come and show their support during our Friday prayer.”

Trump’s travel ban “is dividing families,” said Danielson, who told of a girl, a senior at Stagg High School in Palos Hills, who just learned her father, living in Syria, has been told he can’t enter the United States and join his family after five years apart.

“We thought our country represented (inclusion) and not we’re told by executive order that it doesn’t,” Danielson said. “This is not what America is about and that’s why people are joining us today.”

Judge James Robart has since ruled that the president’s ban on travel to the U.S. from seven primarily Muslim nations – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – has been temporarily rejected. The Trump administration has appealed that decision.

Jane Workhoven, of Oak Forest, stood with friends from Pilgrim Faith Church in Oak Lawn.

“My belief is we’re all children of God, no matter what we call God, and we all need to learn to live in peace. I don’t think the ban was a good idea. I don’t think it will keep out people (Trump) wants to keep out,” Workhoven said.

Adam Malak, pastor of Faith United Presbyterian Church in Tinley Park, braved the cold “because we want to support not only our Muslim brothers and sisters, but other people who feel threatened by some of the recent activities and actions they’ve seen.”

Michael Fekete, a deacon at St. Gerald’s Roman Catholic Church in Oak Lawn, called the travel ban “alarming.”

“I can respect and value wanting to have secure borders and be free of terrorism, but the speed is alarming. And I think the Muslim faith has been targeted specifically in this case. We have seven countries that are banned but we don’t know if there’s going to be more, so there’s a lot of anxiety and stress amongst people here legally who are afraid to travel,” Fekete said.

“I here to show my support and my care for my neighbor,” he added.

During the news conference, eight men and women from various faiths and ethnicities voiced support for their Muslim neighbors.

Included was Rabbi Michael Davis of Jewish Voice for Peace, who led the crowd in a chant of “We Shall Live in Peace Today” after talking about his daughter.

“My 4-year-old gets it. At her preschool, she’s learning to plant seeds of kindness. She said ‘Someone should go to Donald Trump’s house and teach him how to be kind’,” Davis said.

Danielson, who is also outreach director for the Muslim American Society, said “we are extremely grateful to our faith partners in Bridgeview, Oak Lawn and the surrounding area.”

“We have to do what’s right. We have to stay united. We can’t falter. I’ve been over a dozen rallies now. We have to have a united voice against hate and these bans. We have to show the true way of America being great again,” Danielson said.

Oscar Chacon, executive director of Alianza Americas, a Latino advocacy organization, said he was “very proud” to attend the rally, adding that Latinos and Muslims have much in common.

“If there is one group that knows what it’s like to be demonized, to be hated, to be sent back to places we weren’t even born in, that’s us, people from Mexico and other Latin American countries. We are standing together with our brothers and sisters who happen to be Arabs or of the Muslim faith because in you we see us. And we want you to see yourself in us. There’s a lot of hate on a daily basis, but we are here to tell you we are interested in making this a moment we can make our adopted nation better,” Chacon said.