Dallas-area faith leaders unite against prejudice, pledge to bridge postelection divisions

Source: Dallas News

By Sanya Mansoor

RICHARDSON — With a backdrop of giant Texas and American flags, two dozen Christian, Muslim and Jewish faith leaders pledged to fight prejudice this morning at the Islamic Center of North Texas.

They discussed worries among their congregations following the presidential election, the importance of their faith in bridging divides and the avenues they could take to enact political change.

Edwin Robinson, director of urban strategies at Faith In Texas, a coalition of communities for economic and racial justice, underscored the importance of civic discourse as state lawmakers prepare for the 2017 legislative session.

He quoted Martin Luther King Jr.: “The law cannot make a man love me, but it can keep him from lynching me.”

“We need to go to the Legislature […] to restrain the hearts of those who may not be as loving,” Robinson said.

Imam Omar Suleiman (right)of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving answers questions during a press conference. Clergy and lay leaders from the group Faith in Texas were in attendance and spoke to denounce the post-election targeting of Muslims, undocumented people and people of color during a press conference at the Islamic Association of North Texas in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday, November 29, 2016. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)Staff Photographer
Imam Omar Suleiman (right)of the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving answers questions during a press conference. Clergy and lay leaders from the group Faith in Texas were in attendance and spoke to denounce the post-election targeting of Muslims, undocumented people and people of color during a press conference at the Islamic Association of North Texas in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday, November 29, 2016. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)
Staff Photographer

Omar Suleiman, an Imam at the Valley Ranch Islamic Center in Irving, said faith leaders needed to purge resentment from their communities.

“The Quran tells us to repel that which is evil with that which is good,” Suleiman said.

He said many Muslims at his mosque are anxious after the election results.

“The fact that [president-elect Donald Trump] is a xenophobe and it wasn’t a dealbreaker is disturbing,” Suleiman said. But political differences shouldn’t break friendships, he cautioned. “We have to take the higher road,” he said.

Manda Adams, a reverend at The First Community Church in Far East Dallas, attended the event with her husband, who is Muslim.

She said it’s important for her, as a white woman, to acknowledge the privilege she has and speak up in her own community. A few months ago, at a diner in Dallas, she said she overheard someone at a table of white people say: “I don’t tell my kids to play cowboys and Indians anymore, I tell them to play cowboys and Muslims.”

She turned around said: “You’re talking about my family.” But she wishes she had instead said: “You’re teaching your children they shouldn’t form relationships with people who are different to them.”

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