On March 28, North Shore residents of various faiths gathered in Selden to show their support for Muslims around the world.
In response to the March 15 terrorist attacks in New Zealand mosques, a prayer vigil was held outside the Islamic Association of Long Island where more than 100 people, including members from the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association and Building Bridges in Brookhaven, held hands and formed a ring around the mosque during a moment of silence. The symbol of solidarity took place after a brief prayer led by Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky of Temple Isaiah of Stony Brook.
Syed Rahman, current president of the Islamic Association of Long Island, said he was touched by the number of attendees.
“I’m glad so many people made the time to come over with busy workday schedules,” he said. “This is a big turnout. I think this is the biggest turnout since I’ve been president.”
Tom Lyon, a member of Building Bridges in Brookhaven, said more than half a dozen people from the organization attended. One of the group’s founding principles, he said, is based on a motto the members adapted when it was formed — “The most radical thing we can do is to introduce people to each other.”
“Sadly, on Long Island today, developing a diversity of friendships requires far more effort than it should,” Lyon said.
Rev. Steven Kim, pastor of Setauket United Methodist Church, who is also part of the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association, attended the event.
“It was a night for Three Village residents to stand by the Islamic community regardless of our religions or persuasions in the wake of the tragedy in New Zealand,” he said. “It would be beneficial for us to pursue further opportunities in enhancing the mutual understanding and assuring the same humanity among the different ethnic and religious groups in our community.”
After the prayer vigil, the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association hosted a discussion held inside the mosque titled “Belief and Truth from a Multifaith Perspective: Finding Unity in Diversity.” Professor Chris Sellers of Stony Brook University’s history department and director of the Center for the Study of Inequality and Social Justice moderated the discussion.